This past week, the US Surgeon General released a report, focusing on addiction and substance, calling out the nationwide crisis that is killing people in record numbers.
The Addiction Epidemic Continues
The numbers show that substance abuse is on par or exceeds both diabetes and cancer, and yet, there aren’t nearly as much attention and resources devoted to addressing substance abuse. The surgeon general highlighted the fact that substance abuse and addiction are not weaknesses or moral issues. Drugs and alcohol, in varying degrees, change how our brains are wired. They affect everything from our decision-making capabilities, to our reward system, and response to stress. As many already know, he urges people to begin to see addiction as a disease, that needs to be treated with compassion, as well as with a sense of urgency.
While the existence of the opioid crisis isn’t new information, the report did reveal some staggering numbers that highlight just how far the epidemic has progressed. Substance abuse is far more rampant than anyone might know. 20% of Americans regularly binge drink. There are more users of prescription opioids than tobacco. Substance abuse disorders are now more common among Americans than cancer. Roughly 20.8 million people in the United States currently qualify as having a substance use disorder. And how much does all this cost the United States in direct and indirect costs? Over $420 billion per year, according to the report. These costs include factors such as health care costs, loss of economic productivity, and cost involved with the criminal justice system. Last year, around 28 million Americans reported having driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and 66 million people reported having engaged in binge drinking in the past month.
Solutions are Available
The Surgeon General called out the underutilization of proven evidence-based interventions, both in the prevention and treatment arenas. Many of these programs (which tend to be school-, college campus-, and community-based) show children, the next generation, how to cope with and manage their stress, given the high prevalence of addiction that begins with self-medication from stress. Many of these programs also are education-focused, providing children with the information needed about the effects of drugs and alcohol, and the possible consequences that can ensue. Another strategy for these interventions is providing kids with tools and words that can help them refuse drugs and alcohol if and when they are offered it. If we are going to try to slow down or stem this epidemic, it is absolutely critical that we, as a country, focus on educating and informing the next generation, so that fewer people even begin the treacherous path to addiction.
Getting the Help You Need
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, inpatient treatment may be the first necessary step towards getting your life back. For your free confidential assessment, call the treatment professionals at Serenity Acres today: 1-800-203-2024.