We hear heartbreaking stories of addiction, overdose and relapse virtually every day. In most cases, these stories relate to celebrities or otherwise well-known people that have succumbed to the disease. Alternately, we hear of truly shocking behaviors that happened under the influence. Sadly, the day-to-day stories about addiction are too many to cover and have, for most people, become normal and expected. Overdose deaths often become the norm, in many people’s eyes, with the overwhelming statistics we see on drug use and addiction. This is not totally surprising. Indeed, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that almost everyone has been affected by addiction or knows someone who has battled substance abuse or addiction – either alcohol or drugs.
Further complicating treatment and prevention are mental health issues that have become more prevalent in the United States over the past several decades and go hand in hand with addiction. What we call co-occurring disorders – the occurrence of both addiction and mental health issues – affect millions of Americans. The substance abuse treatment industry as a whole has struggled to catch up to the intricacies and difficulties of treating co-occurring disorders. As such, many patients do not receive appropriate care. Further, many of those who successfully complete treatment for one condition or the other may be more prone to relapse, due to not having the tools to manage both.
So, let’s get into the statistics of how common addiction is and how troublesome the consequences are:
- In 2013 over 24 million Americans 12 and older used an illicit drug in the past month
- In 2017 the number of national drug overdose deaths was over 70,000. This was almost double that of 2007 and more than 4 times that of 1999
- The increase in the number of national drug overdose deaths due to opioids has increased even more dramatically with over 47,000 deaths in 2017 compared with 8000 deaths in 1999. An almost 6-fold increase
- In 2018, 38% of 12th graders reported using drugs in the past year. Over 11% of all 12th graders use illicit drugs other than marijuana in the past year.
- According to the Center on Addiction, less than two cents for each of the 500 BILLION dollars that US government organizations (federal, state and local) spend on addiction is allocated to prevention and treatment. This highlights how we are still firmly in the reactionary phase of fighting addiction.
The Bright Spots
The news isn’t all bad…at least for the adolescent population, which is a precursor to later-age abuse. School aged adolescent use of Vicodin and OxyContin has dropped dramatically over the past two decades. The misuse of Adderall in 10th and 12th graders has dropped significantly over the past five years as well, although 8th graders continue to see an increase. Past month cigarette smoking has decreased across 8th, 10th and 12th grade levels over the past 10 years. However, vaping of cannabis and tobacco products has increased and threatens to rewind some of this progress.
Sadly, it is estimated that only 10% of those with substance abuse problems and/or mental health issues actually receive appropriate care and the result is a worsening of the overdose epidemic. Fortunately, treatment centers like Destination Hope are putting an ever-greater emphasis on co-occurring disorders by employing specialized care and adjunctive family recovery programs. If your loved one is in need of help, please contact us to learn more about our program.