The numbers are sobering. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that, in 2016, approximately 20.1 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder (SUD) related to their use of alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year, including 15.1 million people who had an alcohol use disorder and 7.4 million people who had an illicit drug use disorder. Additionally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016, more than 64,000 Americans died from overdosing on illicit drugs and prescription opioids. This number has nearly doubled in a decade.
SUDs occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school or home. Addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to.
Awareness about the scope of chemical abuse and dependency and the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual toll it takes is one component, along with prevention and treatment to improving the lives of affected individuals.
There is good news regarding prevention. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded research has shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media are effective for preventing or reducing drug use and addiction.
Treatment for chemical dependency generally isn’t a cure. However, addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed. According to NIDA, treatment should be ongoing and should be adjusted based on how the patient responds. Treatment plans need to be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.
If you or a loved one is struggling with chemical dependency, don’t hesitate to reach out. Help is available. Contact your PCP who can help coordinate your care and refer you to a specialist, if needed. If you don’t have a PCP, just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.
Mercy Health is committed to providing resources that promote well-being though body, mind and spirit and is dedicated to helping you Live Your Whole Life.