Hello readers, a friend emailed me an article the other day that I thought would be great for you to read. In it, the author lists ten things every American should know about substance abuse. It is a good read and has tons of helpful information about addiction! I really recommend reading it!
Written by Amber Brubaker
According to Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap (CATG), 23 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol, and only about 10 percent of them are receiving treatment. Accompanying this information are terrifying and widespread stereotypes, statistics, and so-called facts about substance abusers. Much of this information is true, but much of it is not, and the alarming information could be the reason many Americans are afraid to address substance abuse at all.
The purpose of this article is not to throw out statistics or scare tactics to spur you into action in the campaign against substance addiction. Instead, we would like to offer 10 facts to help the populace better understand substance addiction and how it affects those suffering from it. We hope that this will increase public understanding, which will in-turn increase the percentage of those receiving help for their addictions.
1. Substance Addiction Causes a Chemical Change in the Brain
Drug and alcohol use physically alters the communication system within the brain. The brain functions by sending neurons back and forth to communicate information to the body. Drugs and alcohol fool their way into the brain and take control of some of those neurons. As a result, the information the neurons are supposed to send is replaced by signals to demand more of the substance. This is why many addicts struggle to do basic things, such as eating, showering, and sleeping, and also why most are unable to simply quit the substance cold turkey.
2. Substance Addiction Usually Begins in Teens
The most common age for teen drug, alcohol, or cigarette use is 13, with repeated uses for years to come. According to the CDC, over 70 percent of high school students have dabbled in substance abuse, and 1 in 5 of them are considered to be addicts, a disease that most often stays with them well into their adult years.
3. Substance Addiction Is Often Associated with Mental Illness
Substance abuse can be a form of self-medicating for those suffering from mental illness. It is also known to lead to the onset of symptoms of illnesses such as paranoia, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder among others. Unfortunately, these symptoms can have a lasting effect even after the user beats the addiction.
4. Substance Addiction Results Because the Abuser Wants to Change Aspects of His/Her Life
Generally, substance addiction begins because the abuser is trying to escape bullying, peer pressure, dissatisfaction at work, depression, issues at home, or any number of distressing circumstances.
5. Substance Addiction Affects Men and Women Differently
Men and women generally seek very different things when it comes to comfort, which is why the process of addiction recovery is so much different for men and women. Women feel the need to connect with others in order to overcome their addiction, while men are often more focused on working on their unique problem. Women should seek out treatment that is unique to their needs. For more information, read the article “Addiction Healing for Women.”
6. Substance Addiction Does Not Make Someone Bad
It’s true that people are often a product of their choices. However, addiction is not a choice. The user may have made one or two bad choices when they decided to try the substance in the first place, but those choices turned into a chemical change in the brain, over which the user has very little power. Those suffering from substance abuse are not bad people. They are simply sick and doing the only thing they know will relieve the pain and suffering for awhile.
7. Substance Addicts Do Not Always Fit a Stereotype
When you think of substance abusers, you probably think of people staying in the bar from sun up to sun down, or hanging out in deserted alleyways. However, that is not the case for all users. Many addicts may hold a full-time job and dress respectably with a nice home and family. Likewise, not all those spending time in alleys are addicted to a substance. The only way to really tell if someone is addicted is to look at their behavior, rather than their appearance.
8. Substance Addicts Respond Well to Positive Feedback
Negativity of all kinds is addiction’s greatest ally. It feeds the shame and depression that drives many addicts to seek out their substance of choice. When working with an addict, the best thing you can do is be positive, patient, and loving. Your positivity can help addicts remove themselves from the negative mindset that comes with addiction and focus on ways to get better.
9. Relapses Are Common during the Recovery Process
Because of the severe changes that happen within an addict’s mind and body, it will be nearly impossible for an addict to quit the behavior altogether. Relapses are likely. It’s important for addicts to stay positive and recognize that the amount of time between relapses is a victory, and that each day they stay away from the substance is one step closer to being clean.
10. Addiction Recovery Programs Work
Although one recovery program didn’t work for an addict seeking help, there is likely another one out there that will. Recovery programs have helped millions, and they continue to do so with new and varied techniques. They are known to dramatically reduce criminal activity and the spread of intravenous diseases during and after the treatment has taken effect. It’s worth it for every user to search for the right program for him/her.
Our hope is that this information will help make it clear how important it is for all Americans to do their part. Just remember that the majority of substance abusers are not bad people who don’t want to get better. They are victims of a disease that needs treating, and they need our help.
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