Right now, a significant number of people in the United States are observing National Addiction Treatment Week. During this time, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) asks that we all do our part to raise awareness about mental illness, specifically alcohol and substance use disorder. The organization wants to help the general public understand that addiction is a disease and that treatment is not only available, it also works.
The U.S. is in the grips of an addiction epidemic! In the news, most people only hear about prescription opioids and heroin due to the alarming overdose rates over the last two decades. While it is a fact that opioid use disorder is a tier one issue, it is not the only substance devastating families and stealing lives. It’s worth pointing out that alcohol is responsible for tens-of-thousands of more deaths each year than painkillers, heroin, and synthetic opioids.
We must address addiction in America as a whole. Compartmentalizing one iteration of the disease from the next is tantamount to not seeing the forest for the trees. Use disorders, left untreated, all lead to the same outcomes, none of which are desirable. It is of the utmost importance that those in the vice-like grip of active addiction have access to evidence-based treatments; that they can seek treatment without fear of social stigma, which is one of the most significant deterrents to people seeking help.
Having The Facts About Addiction Helps
As was proffered earlier, it is easy for the general public to lose sight of the big picture of addiction in America. Practically everyone is aware that opioids are one the most daunting problems of our times. However, the problem we face today goes far beyond overprescribing painkillers or fentanyl crossing the border; the salient issue we must confront is the fact the tens-of-millions of people are struggling with addiction of any kind, and only a small number seek treatment. The barricade preventing people from recovery is often stigma or an insufficient number of centers equipped to guide people down the road of recovery.
Please consider the figures below:
- There are some 20.5 million Americans in the grips of addiction.
- Only 1 in 10 people in the US with the disease of addiction receive treatment.
- In 2015, more people died from a drug overdose than from car accidents and nearly 88,000 people died from alcohol-related causes.
- An estimated 15.1 million adults suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder, yet only 1.3 million adults (or less than 10%) received treatment.
- About 2.3 million Americans met the criteria for opioid use disorder in 2015, yet there was only enough treatment capacity to treat 1.4 million people, leaving a treatment gap of nearly 1 million people.
It has come to light another factor preventing individuals from care is a lack of clinicians with knowledge about addiction medicine. With that in mind, ASAM is hosting events and webinars this week with the hope of encouraging more people to pursue a career in the field.
“Raising awareness that addiction is a chronic brain disease, and not a moral failure, and qualifying more clinicians to treat addiction is vital to increasing patients’ access to treatment.” said Kelly Clark, MD, MBA, DFASAM, president of ASAM. “National Addiction Treatment Week supports ASAM’s dedication to increasing access and improving the quality of addiction treatment, and helping physicians treat addiction and save lives.”
If you are struggling with addiction of any kind, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat. With our assistance, you can begin the life-saving journey of lasting recovery, so that you may lead a fulfilling and productive life.