Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How Addiction is Affecting America

Author: Victoria Candland

Addiction is an ever-growing epidemic in the United States. It can destroy relationships, wreak havoc on the economy, and make people miserable and unhealthy. Here are some important facts about addiction in America including the statistics, current drug trends, and the paths we can take toward recovery.

Drug Addiction Statistics
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs is detrimental to our economy and costs the United States over $600 billion annually. This money is in costs related to crime, health care caused by this abuse, and lost work productivity. Tobacco costs the economy $193 billion per year with $96 billion in health care costs, which is more than any other substance. Alcohol costs $235 billion annually, and illicit drugs cost $193 billion.

According to a 2009 report, 23.5 million people ages 12 and older needed treatment for alcohol or illicit drug abuse in 2009. Of these, only 2.6 million sought treatment at a specialty facility, which is a mere 11.2 percent of all who needed treatment.

Today, most admissions for treatment facilities are for people with an addiction to alcohol. Of those who are admitted for a drug problem, the majority of them have an addiction to heroin or other opiates, followed by marijuana.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most people who seek treatment at special facilities are white, comprising 59.8 percent of total rehabilitation patients. African-Americans come in second, but with a much lower percentage of 20.9 percent. Only 2.3 percent of admissions are American Indian or Alaskan Native, even though addiction is often a serious problem among these groups.

The age range with the highest proportion of treatment admissions was patients ranging from 25 to 29 years old, and the lowest was 65 years and older.

Current Drug Trends
Drugs come and go in fads. When new ones appear, they tend to spread fast. A new drug that is trending is chemically similar to marijuana’s active component THC and called “synthetic marijuana” or “synthetic pot” on the streets. Manufacturers of this drug are continually creating new products to evade legal bans on older forms of the synthetic material. Synthetic marijuana is very dangerous and can lead to overdoses and aggressive or suicidal behavior in the user.

Another compound on the rise is caffeine powder, which users often buy in bulk bags online. Caffeine powder is attractive to young people, including those in high school, who want a stronger caffeine boost or help losing weight. However, caffeine powder is incredibly potent and dangerous. A teaspoon of the substance is the same as drinking 25 cups of coffee. People can experience severe reactions including a seizure, erratic heartbeat, vomiting, and even death.

E-cigarettes are also becoming increasingly more popular, but scientists are unsure how safe they really are. It isn’t clear if they are any safer than the conventional cigarette, and e-cigarettes still deliver a potent amount of nicotine, which is highly addictive.

Addiction Recovery Facts
There are many myths surrounding addiction and recovery from addiction, so here are some facts to dispel those myths.

One of the beliefs many people have is that addiction is a choice. But, in order to recover from addiction, you need more than enough willpower to “snap out of it.” Addiction has profound physiological and biological components and the brain literally alters its programming because of it. Genetic and environmental factors go hand in hand to create an addiction. People don’t choose to become addicted any more than they choose to have a chronic disease. Because of all of these factors, it’s imperative that an addict seeks professional help rather than simply self-treating.

Another myth is that addicts who relapse cannot actually recover and are hopeless. The fact is that relapses are very common and often a part of the recovery process. Many addicts are prone to relapse during the first few months of being clean and sober. A relapse doesn’t mean failure.

The myth that prevents many from seeking professional help is that rehabilitation is too expensive and not worth the cost. In many centers across the nation, insurance and admissions specialists will work with the patient to assist in creating the best financing plan. Many centers will also work with insurance companies to create a possible treatment plan. Various funding programs are also available that help families with the cost of treatment for their loved one. Learn more about getting help here.