Awareness is Key to Addressing Substance Use Disorder

The numbers are sobering.

In its 2018 Annual Surveillance Report of Drug-Related Risks and Outcomes — United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, in 2016, an estimated 48.5 million persons in the U.S., or 18 percent of persons aged 12 years and older, reported use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs in the past year. This estimate includes use of marijuana, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and methamphetamines, and the misuse of prescription drugs. During that same year, a total of 63,632 persons died from drug overdoses. This number has nearly doubled in a decade.

Substance use disorders (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 SUD and the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual toll it takes is one component, along with prevention and treatment to improve 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 SUDs 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 the misuse of drugs or alcohol, 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 a healthy life.

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