A new study has revealed the United States experienced a substantial increase in substance abuse from 2001 to 2009. Overall, the number of drug and alcohol addiction diagnoses increased by a daunting 70 percent.
The Hard Facts
The study was conducted using data from doctor visits. From 2001 to 2003, the number of addiction diagnoses was about 10.6 million, a far cry from the 18 million diagnoses made from 2007 to 2009. Painkillers were the obvious drug of choice during this time frame as opioid addiction diagnoses increased from 772,000 to an astounding 4.4 million.
The rise in substance abuse is partially due to the epidemic of pharmaceutical drug abuse. With prescriptions being easy to obtain and more socially accepted than other “street” drugs, the number of people addicted to painkillers — as well as anti-anxiety medications, anti-depressants, muscle relaxers, ADHD medications, etc. — increased.
Taking the Good with the Bad
While it is certainly not good news so many Americans have suffered from drug and alcohol addiction, there is a silver lining on this dark cloud. The individuals in the study were seeking help for their addictions. The people who visited the doctor for their condition were taking the first step in their path to recovery and away from destruction. Many of those people continued on to a substance abuse treatment facility.
While substance abuse is increasing, it is obvious people are recognizing their addiction is a problem and reaching out for help. If someone you know is suffering from an addiction, encourage them to seek help for their problem. Explain the benefits of treatment in a drug rehab center. Remind them they are not alone and there is no shame in asking for help. A simple conversation could be the push your loved one needs to start their path to recovery.