Wednesday, April 17, 2024

How Many Americans Struggle With Addiction

What You Can Do To Help

American Epidemic: The Nation’s Struggle With Opioid Addiction

Social Ties are Crucial to Your Overall Health. If You Feel Lonely, Medical Professionals Recommend That You:

  • Reflect. Understand that feeling lonely is temporary and can be moderated by finding new social activities or asking friends and family for support. Tell your loved ones how much it means to you when you spend time together.
  • Connect. Do something helpful or kind for someone else without expecting anything in return.
  • Interact. Work with others in your community or family, volunteer to help someone in need, or find a book club or local social event where you can meet new people who have something in common with you.

If you struggle with any of these steps and find that you begin to have low physical energy, anxiety about going out, anhedonia, unrelieved sadness, or cravings for drugs or alcohol to feel better, you should speak with a counselor. There could be an underlying mental health condition that impacts your ability to stay present in relationships and receive positive support from others, but these conditions can be managed.

If you have already begun to rely on substances to feel normal or happy, seek help from a detox and rehabilitation program. Loneliness and substance abuse are intertwined, but there is hope in recovery. You can leave substance abuse behind and find contentment in sobriety.

What Are Treatments For Drug Addiction

There are many options that have been successful in treating drug addiction, including:

  • behavioral counseling
  • medical devices and applications used to treat withdrawal symptoms or deliver skills training
  • evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  • long-term follow-up to prevent relapse

A range of care with a tailored treatment program and follow-up options can be crucial to success. Treatment should include both medical and mental health services as needed. Follow-up care may include community- or family-based recovery support systems.

Yes Addiction Is A Mental Illness

Addiction is a chronic disease that changes both brain structure and function, currently affecting the lives of nearly 10% of adults in the United States.

Addiction swaps the everyday desires of the brain with those of the drug you are addicted to. You no longer enjoy what other people do as the brain changes. The changes start with recognition of pleasure and end with a drive toward compulsive behavior to fulfill that desire. Sometimes, when you try quitting, the addiction weakens your ability to manage impulses.

Addiction exerts a long and powerful influence on the brain. This influence manifests in three ways:

  • Craving for the object of addiction
  • Loss of control over its use
  • Continuing involvement with it despite problems it causes

With drug and alcohol addiction, substances hijack the brains reward system. This could lead to developing a physical dependence on substances.

Some people develop unpleasant and sometimes dangerous physical symptoms when they stop or decrease substance use. These changes result in a weakened ability to control impulses despite the negative consequences.

Substance misuse can lead to serious physical, emotional, and social problems. For example, continued use of drugs or alcohol can lead to job loss, broken relationships, and other failures. These problems often increase stress and anxiety.

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An Addict Should Hit Rock Bottom Before They Go To Treatment

Rock bottom is a term commonly used to describe the point in a substance abusers life where they feel that they cant sink any lower and that life cannot get any worse. This can be different for everyone for some people it could mean losing a spouse or a home for others, it could be a near-death experience like an overdose.

However, you dont need to be at the bottom to climb higher. You dont need to be at your worst to get better. In fact, in waiting for rock bottom could put the addict at risk of serious harm or death. When it comes to seeking help for substance abuse, anytime is a good time to ask for help.

How Did This Happen

a pandemic upon an epidemic syringe services struggle

In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers, and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates. This subsequently led to widespread diversion and misuse of these medications before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive.3,4 Opioid overdose rates began to increase. In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose, including prescription opioids, heroin, and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.1 That same year, an estimated 1.7 million people in the United States suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers, and 652,000 suffered from a heroin use disorder .5

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How Many Americans Are Addicted To Drugs

When addressing the topic of how many Americans are addicted to drugs, it helps to look at the different types of substance use disorders.

Home » Resources » Help for Friends and Family » How Many Americans Are Addicted to Drugs?

Substance use problems are an ongoing concern throughout the United States. In the past, experts divided these problems into two separate categories: addiction and non-addiction abuse. However, today, substance issues get grouped together under a single heading known as substance use disorder. When addressing the topic of how many Americans are addicted to drugs, it helps to look at the different types of substance use disorders.

Common Misconceptions About Addicts And Addiction

Addiction affects so many people in so many different ways. You yourself might be affected, whether youre struggling with a substance use disorder yourself or attempting to support a friend or family member through their recovery. Myths and misconceptions about addiction can be harmful to anyone affected by this disease, not just the addicts themselves.

Addiction thrives in darkness and loneliness. A sense of community really is the best addiction recovery plan, and trying your best to sort through the common myths about addiction and really understanding more about this disease can help you help the person in your life who is struggling to be sober.

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In The United States 91% Or 2235 Million Adults Have Resolved A Substance Use Problem

See below for figures with breakdowns of demographic & clinical characteristics.

About half were in the Assisted pathway, with mutual-help organizations as the most commonly used service, followed by treatment, recovery support services, and anti-craving/anti-relapse medications for opioid or alcohol use. These services were not mutually-exclusive: someone might have used anywhere from one type of service to all four types.

See below for figure with breakdown of the percent of the sample who used each service.

Importantly, although medications was the least commonly used resource, individuals who resolved their problem more recently were significantly more likely to have taken this type of addiction medication: 15% who resolved their problem less than 5 years ago vs. 11% who resolved their problem 5-15 years ago vs. 8% who resolved their problem 15+ years ago.

Factors that were related to an Assisted pathway were broadly indicative of a more severe profile. These included:

  • having used 2 or 3+ substances vs. 1
  • opioid as ones primary substance compared to alcohol
  • first use of any substance younger than age 15
  • receipt of a mental health or substance use diagnosis by a medical professional
  • having been arrested and, especially, having been referred to drug court.


Addiction In The Tabloids

How Americans’ drinking habits have changed during the pandemic

Celebrities seem to constantly make headlines for all the wrong reasons drug-fueled binges, DUI wrecks, and tales of total public meltdowns while under the influence.

Theres a very dark side to the excess that accompanies fame and the constant media exposure can make it seem as if celebrities are more prone to addiction than the average person.

Addiction truly is a disease that does not discriminate.

Many celebrities wage a very public struggle with substance abuse some of these stories culminate in a tragic, often preventable ending.

When it comes to the prevalence of addiction among the famous, it might be a matter of accessibility. Its arguable that affluent celebrities have greater access to some kinds of addictive substances, and there is an undeniable connection between accessibility and addiction.

Another difference is that celebrities lives in times of success and failure are very public. While most can deal with addiction privately, people in the public eye are not afforded that luxury. If you or someone you know is suffering with substance abuse, call Who Answers? for help.

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How Does Loneliness Relate To Substance Abuse

Loneliness can be both a trigger and an effect of struggling with substance abuse. Loneliness is defined by medical practitioners as a state of mind characterized by the dissociation between what an individual expects from a relationship and what the individual experiences in that relationship.

While many people think of loneliness as part of being alone, solitude is not inherently lonely. Some people report feeling alone, even though they have friends, romantic partners, spouses, and children, or they consistently see people for social reasons. Loneliness is, most often, a state of mind, but it has to do with not having emotional needs met.

One in three Americans report being affected by loneliness. One in 12 reports being severely affected, including feeling isolated. People who feel lonely may have personality or behavioral characteristics. They may:

  • Be irritable often
  • Act in a self-centered way
  • Have other mental or emotional health dysfunctions

Loneliness has been associated with a 26 percent increase in mortality. Increased physical problems like heart disease, diminished sleep quality, increased overall inflammation and decreased immune system function have been reported in people who experience high levels of loneliness.

People who drink too much or abuse drugs to loosen up or enjoy a social event may feeling lonely, while also feeling anxious about being around people. Addiction and loneliness are tied together as cause and effect.

Nearly Half Of Americans Have A Family Member Or Close Friend Whos Been Addicted To Drugs

Its common for Americans to know someone with a current or past drug addiction and its an experience that mostly cuts across demographic and partisan lines.

A Pew Research Center survey conducted in August found that 46% of U.S. adults say they have a family member or close friend who is addicted to drugs or has been in the past. Identical shares of men and women say this , as do identical shares of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents when compared with Republicans and Republican leaners . There are no statistically significant differences between whites , Hispanics and blacks .

Data from the federal government provide context for these survey findings. In 2016, about 7.4 million Americans ages 12 and older reported behavior in the past year that meets the criteria of an illicit drug use disorder, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration . These criteria include a drug user making unsuccessful attempts to cut down on use or continuing the habit despite physical health or emotional problems associated with use.

While a relatively small share of Americans report having an illicit drug use disorder, the number and rate of drug overdose deaths has grown sharply in recent years, with opioids accounting for a rising share of these fatalities. Opioids now account for more than six-in-ten drug overdose deaths.

Preliminary estimates show that U.S. drug overdose deaths continued to rise sharply in 2016.

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Hiring Advocates For Patients In California

Daniel Browne started drinking alcohol and using prescription opioids at age 14. By the time he was 24, he was on the verge of losing his job, his car and his apartment.

I didnt know where else to go to get treatment other than the ER, he says.

In May 2020, Browne drove 15 minutes from his home to Adventist Health Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits, Calif., where he was immediately met by Mary Anne Cox Gould. At the time, Cox Gould was a substance use navigator for a program called CA Bridge. She championed addiction treatment in the hospital and helped connect patients from the ER to clinics in the community. (Cox Gould is now a supervisor of other navigators in Adventist Health hospitals.

She met me in the parking lot even before I went into the ER, Browne recalls.

She stayed with him as he received his first dose of buprenorphine, which provided immediate relief from withdrawal symptoms. Once youre not facing the crippling detoxification, its much easier to not relapse, Browne says.

Cox Gould then walked him over to the hospitals outpatient clinic and helped him schedule recurring appointments. When Browne ran into obstacles filling his buprenorphine prescription at a local pharmacy, she made the necessary arrangements for him to get it from the hospital pharmacy, instead.

This doesnt have to be a one-off story about a really special hospital, Clayton says. It can happen at scale.

Percent Of Us Adults Have Drug Use Disorder At Some Point In Their Lives

How Many People Need Treatment For Drug Addiction ...

75 percent report not receiving any form of treatment.

A survey of American adults revealed that drug use disorder is common, co-occurs with a range of mental health disorders and often goes untreated. The study, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism , part of the National Institutes of Health, found that about 4 percent of Americans met the criteria for drug use disorder in the past year and about 10 percent have had drug use disorder at some time in their lives.

Based on these findings, more than 23 million adults in the United States have struggled with problematic drug use.

George F. Koob, Ph.D., NIAAA director

Based on these findings, more than 23 million adults in the United States have struggled with problematic drug use, said George F. Koob, Ph.D., NIAAA director. Given these numbers, and other recent findings about the prevalence and under-treatment of alcohol use disorder in the U.S., it is vitally important that we continue our efforts to understand the underlying causes of drug and alcohol addiction, their relationship to other psychiatric conditions and the most effective forms of treatment.

This includes the problematic use of amphetamines, marijuana, club drugs , cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, non-heroin opioids , sedatives/tranquilizers, and solvents/inhalants. Face-to-face interviews were conducted to diagnose drug use disorder, as well as alcohol use disorder, nicotine use disorder, and various personality disorders.

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Statistics On Opioid Addiction And Abuse

Opioids are a class of drugs which block sensations of pain and cause euphoria. They are dangerous because they pose very high risks for addiction and overdose. Opioids are an ingredient in many pain-relieving medications. Since they are controlled substances, drug traffickers also sell them illegally. Opioids, both illegal and prescribed, have caused a surge of deaths in the US in the past 2 decades.

  • About 130 Americans die every day from an Opioid overdose.
  • Since 1999, the sale of Opioid Painkillers has skyrocketed by 300%.
  • About 20% to 30% of people who take prescription Opioids misuse them.
  • About 10% of people who misuse prescription Opioids become addicted to Opioids.
  • Approximately 2.1 million Americans have an Opioid use disorder.
  • About 5% of people with an Opioid use disorder will try Heroin.

Break free from addiction.

Compulsion Becomes The Driving Force

Even if you hardly experience pleasure from drugs, the memory created from past use compels the desire to recreate that pleasure. This compulsion causes part of your brainthe hippocampus and amygdalato start developing thoughts about getting the drug again, which grows into intense desire when encountering an environment with those drugs.

This desire to relapse even after years of sobriety, especially when you encounter tempting environments, results from this conditional learning.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Addiction

  • Taking larger amounts of a drug over a period of time.
  • Unsuccessfully trying to cut down.
  • Spending a long time acquiring, using, or recovering from the effects of a drug.
  • Feeling urges to use a drug.
  • Difficulty carrying out responsibilities at home, work, or school because of drug use.
  • Continuing to use a drug despite relationship problems.
  • Giving up important activities because of drug use.
  • Using a drug in dangerous situations.
  • Continuing to use a drug despite physical or psychological problems because of drug use.
  • Building tolerance, or a need for more of a drug to feel the same effects, or experiencing less of an effect with the same amount.
  • Having withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit or cut down.

Causes Of Alcoholism Among Native Americans

Dealing with a Loved One with an Addiction

Native Americans have some of the highest rates of alcohol and drug abuse among minority groupswhich leads some to ask whether they are prone to alcoholism.3 Certain factors may contribute to the development of alcohol use disorders among Native Americans as well as prevent them from seeking help. Economic issues, cultural loss, domestic abuse, and physical and mental health issues may put Native Americans at higher risk of alcoholism.

Although certain factors are believed to cause high rates of alcoholism among Native Americans, the specific reasons that people drink vary. Each individual is unique and influenced by economic, cultural, and other factors in different ways.

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Educate Them On The Realities Of Addiction

Many people do not understand that addiction is a disease that leads to compulsive behaviors. They may think that drug or alcohol use is merely a choice. By talking to friends and co-workers about recovery, you may help reduce the stigma associated with addiction. And more people may understand the struggles you experience each day.

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