Few could argue that addiction is an epidemic that afflicts the developed world. The U.S.A, long thought to be one of the most advanced nations on earth, shows drug and alcohol abuse statistics raising on a significant scale. According to reports, over 20 million people nationwide suffer from drug and alcohol abuse issues. Perhaps worse, the cost of treatment and incarceration run nearly $700 billion annually for taxpayers. One very troubling statistic is the growing number of deaths attributed to overdose. In the past few years, an explosion of opiate-related overdoses has struck fear into emergency service workers throughout the country. In some cities, death by overdose of heroin and opioids are at all-time highs. Never before has the promise of adequate treatment mattered as much as it does now. Families who are under attack by addiction are turning to qualified medical professionals to help them mitigate a family disaster. The U.S. ranks highest for lifetime use for three drugs.
The U.S. Leads the World in Abusing Three Substances
Cannabis, cocaine, and tobacco are widely abused by people nationwide, many of them for their entire lives. Ironically, those with high incomes are even more susceptible than those who earn less. America is not first when it comes to alcohol abuse, but the country is not far from the leaders. Worldwide, over 240 million are alcoholics, and one billion people smoke cigarettes. Alcohol abuse strikes people at a young age, which is not surprising considering that critics accuse manufacturers of targeting youths with specially formulated drinks. Addiction specialists say that most advertising of drinking contains irresponsible scenes that downplay the risk. With exposure to a powerful marketing message happening at a young age, it’s no surprise that teenage drinking is widespread. Products like alco-pops undergo criticism because they are tasty drinks that are similar to soda, except for the intoxicating effect. Not only do these beverages taste sweet, but they also contain between 4 to 7% alcohol by content. Not only that but they also have caffeine and sugar in them, so they send a confusing set of signals to the body. Setting the drinking age to 21 has not had the impact imagined. In fact, 11.04% of all alcohol is consumed by underage drinkers. Drinking early also makes it likely that the person will experience abuse and addiction problems later in life.
Drinking Affects Everyone, Even the Young in the U.S.
Underage drinking is dangerous, claiming the lives of 4,700 people under 21 each year. Underage drinking also contributes to the primary reasons for death for young people because it’s a factor in many suicides, homicides, and car accidents. Public officials are well aware of the problem of teen drinking but have been relatively powerless to stop the trend despite decades of trying. Binge drinking is particularly worrisome because it can lead to blackouts, alcohol poisoning, and even death. Binge drinking is defined by consuming multiple alcoholic beverages at one time. For females, this is classified as four drinks. For males, the number is five. As you can imagine, drinking alcohol at a fast rate puts recreational binge drinkers at higher risk of poor decision making, accidents, or alcohol-related mishaps. Another very real concern is alcoholism. Alcoholism is the culmination of long-term drinking. Alcoholism is a very destructive disease on many levels. Drinking problems often play a role in the breakdown of relationships, abusive behavior, lost productivity (sick days, missed work, job loss, etc.) health troubles, and in some cases even legal troubles. One important thing to note is that in severe cases of alcoholism, you should never try to detox without the supervision and guidance of a medical professional. In extreme cases, alcohol withdrawals can cause seizures, organ failure, or death so having the watchful eye of a medical staff with experience treating others with this medical condition is a smart idea. The most likely time for withdrawal symptoms to present a medical danger is during the initial detox of 24 – 72 hours. During this time, medical professionals are there to monitor vital statistics and administer medications, if necessary. After this initial detox, ongoing treatment is helpful for adapting to a life without the use of alcohol. Inpatient treatment is ideal because it removes the individual battling an alcohol addiction from their normal surroundings and teaches them skills to prevent a relapse when they leave the facility. Counseling is helpful in identifying larger issues or triggers that lead them to drinking, so that they can deal with these problems in a healthier manner going forward. For people who need ongoing support after inpatient treatment or are unable to complete a long term inpatient treatment program, outpatient treatment offers a way to maintain sobriety with the support of others.
Meth Addiction Continues but is Actually on the Decline
Meth addiction remains high, with drug abuse statistics showing that over 1.2 million regular abuse it. In the last few years, the trend has been down, most likely due to the presence of other more compelling alternatives. Nationally, the drug is on the decline, but usage remains high in the Midwest and parts of the West. With the cost of heroin dropping significantly in the past few years, there may be a shift in usage from meth to that drug. Heroin is available for as little as $5 in many American towns and cities, which increases the demand for this cheap, potent, and deadly drug. Cocaine, marijuana, heroin and meth account for over one million emergency room visits each year. It’s crucial to also mention that many drugs that people abuse are prescriptions, or legal medicine. Over 1.8 million each year enter treatment facilities to deal with their issues. There are treatment programs for every budget and time constraint. Many people seek treatment after a significant, negative life event. In cases of job loss, marriage failure, trouble with the law, and emergency room visits, some people look for immediate ways to quit their bad habits so they can start over again. Rehab centers are a reliable option because they offer in-patient treatment that removes the patient from their surroundings. Many people who abuse drugs or alcohol have a lot of associations that cause them to use. Going away from their normal settings for a period of introspection and counseling gives them a chance to break out of their spiral of negative behavior. People sometimes delay entering a rehab center or treatment program when:
- The feel that they have no chance at all to recover.
- Constantly worry that treatment is not affordable for them.
- Hold a number of concerns that they can’t leave their family for a lengthy period of time.
- They don’t want to leave their family or friends for an extended stay.
- Fear they can’t miss the work time.
Although these concerns are somewhat understandable, they should not stand in the way of finding professional help. Thinking of a more productive, non-addicted lifestyle is often enough motivation to get them to consider making a move.
Opioid Addiction and Painkiller Abuse Are Pressing Concerns
Opioid addiction abuse statistics show a rising trend. Further complicating the issue is that many abusers were given prescriptions by doctors and need the medication for pain. Beyond those people is a second wave of people who purchase the drugs on the black market solely for recreational usage. How widespread is the problem? In the past 30 days, 4.3 million Americans used pain medications for nonmedical reasons. Non-medical painkiller abusers begin using the drug at the age of 21 and 2 months. Withdrawing from opioids often requires medical supervision and alternative treatments.
The Death Toll from Drugs Is Rising in the United States
According to a report by CNN in 2016, deaths from overdoses are rising in all 50 states. Drugs are now the number one cause of accidental death. Now that drugs are moving ahead of guns and cars as a danger to citizens, lawmakers are scrambling to do something about the epidemic. In the meantime, the need for treatment is critical. The problem is so severe in some small towns that locals are struggling to keep up with the demand for services. Narcotic addiction creates changes to the brain that merit the need for therapy. Some people are able to quit “cold turkey,” but only in rare cases. Almost all people suffering from addiction to drugs require assistance to get their lives back on track. Dealing with withdrawal symptoms is best left to experts. There are many dangers associated with quitting addictive drugs. In severe cases, death is possible if the weaning is done incorrectly. For that reason, facilities that monitor the health of patients are preferable. However, for the most part that means private rehab centers are the top choice. With over 14,500 treatment facilities in the U.S., finding a convenient and affordable option should pose no difficulty. For a user who is in a crisis situation, entering such a program offers hope for a drug-free lifestyle. Most programs are intensive because drug use is a complex topic that impacts every area of a person’s life. The main goal is to wean them from drugs and teach them the appropriate life skills to move on to a more productive phase. Once the person is off drugs, a maintenance plan is required. People who quit abusing a drug or alcohol return to “normal lives,” which still have their share of problems. Actively fighting their disease means developing the tools necessary to cope with these everyday issues. 40 to 60 percent of patients will relapse. Despite sounding like a hopeless battle, keep in mind that patients suffering from a variety of other diseases like diabetes also have high relapse rates. It’s never easy to change lifestyle directions, but millions of people have done just that.
The High Cost of Substance Abuse
The toll on the health of drug abusers is high, as are the associated costs for society. According to NDIA, the expense for society due to drug abuse is approaching a half trillion dollars per year! That figure represents a larger cost than diabetes and cancer combined. The figure of 484 billion dollars includes expenditures for health care, loss of earnings, and the costs from crime and accidents committed by people who are on drugs. This includes health care expenditures, lost earnings, and costs associated with crime and accidents. This is an enormous burden that affects all of society – those who abuse these substances, and those who don’t. A myriad range of other ills come from drug abuse:
- Homelessness: An estimated 31% of homeless people in America suffer from alcohol or drug abuse.
- Crime: Up to 60% of adults incarcerated in Federal prison are there due to drug offenses.
- Jobs: Employers lose millions of dollars each year due to missed work by those who are alcohol or drug abusers.
The people who are most affected by the rise of drug and alcohol use in the United States are those who work in emergency services. With increased calls for service to handle overdoses and other calls as a result of substance abuse, emergency workers are are stretched thin, which puts others in danger of not having access to emergency services if they’re needed. To save more lives, communities are using taxpayer dollars to pay for lifesaving drugs like Narcan for overdose victims. But with the price of this overdose anecdote rising, the cost to taxpayers grows by the day, making the overall cost of substance abuse larger for everyone in the community, regardless of whether they consume drugs and alcohol or not.
Break The Cycle Of Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, there is time to not get counted as part of a statistic. All you need to do is take action to get on the path to recovery. Ashwood Recovery offers compassionate and skilled drug and alcohol rehab for patients of all ages. In closing, the United States leads the world as it relates to drug and alcohol abuse, however, there is hope – and help – for anyone who wants to break the cycle of addiction forever. Contact Ashwood Recovery for more details on their treatment programs today!
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