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What is the scope of drug addiction in the United States?

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there are an estimated 164.8 million people aged 12 or older in the United States who were past-month drug users. Two out of five people aged 12 and older did not use substances in the past month. The 164.8 million drug users include 139.8 million of those individuals who are consuming alcohol, 58.8 million who are using tobacco, and 31.9 million who are using illicit drugs. Drug and alcohol abuse is problematic throughout the United States, and every year more people become addicted to drugs and alcohol. Prescription drug addiction is a growing problem within the country, and alcohol abuse is the third leading preventable cause of death within the country. In 2018, roughly 139.8 million Americans aged 12 or older were past month alcohol users. Over 67 million Americans were binge drinkers in the past month, and over 16 million were considered heavy drinkers in the past month.

About 2,2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 consumed alcohol in the past month, and 1.2 million adolescents took part in binge drinking. About 1 in 11 adolescents in 2018 were past month alcohol users, despite adolescent alcohol abuse decreasing between 2002 and 2018. In 2018 one in five people aged 12 or older used an illicit drug in the past year, which was a higher percentage than in 2015 and 2016. Marijuana was the primary driver for the increase in illegal drug use despite some states legalizing the drug. There are over 43 million marijuana users throughout the United States, and the percentage of marijuana use has increased since 2017. The increase in marijuana use is seen among young adults aged 18 to 25. Prescription pain medication abuse in the country was the second most common form of illicit drug use in 2018. Over 3.6% of the American population is misusing pain medication; however, pain medication abuse among young adults aged 18 to 25 has decreased.

Over 63% of people who misused pain relievers in 2018 were doing so to relieve the pain they were suffering from. More than half of the people who abused pain medication in 2018 received their recent dose of medication from a friend or family member. In 2018 there were 4.9 million new alcohol users, 3.1 million new marijuana users, 1.9 million new prescription pain reliever users, and 1.8 million new tobacco users. In 2018 4 out of 5 people aged 12 and older were at risk of harm from weekly use of cocaine or heroin. One-third of the people who were using marijuana were at risk of harm from weekly marijuana use. Two out of three people perceived a significant risk of harm from daily binge drinking; among adolescents, there was a decline in perceived risk of harm with illicit drug use. In 2018 about 20.3 million people aged 12 and older had a substance use disorder related to their alcohol or illegal drug use. Broken down, this was 14.8 million people with an alcohol use disorder and 8.1 million people with an illicit drug use disorder.

Drug and alcohol addiction impacts millions of Americans annually and unfortunately, countless Americans are unable to get the treatment they need. Most people are left to their own devices and family or friends do not take steps to intervene and get them help. Family intervention works and even if it is a small percentage of the current 164 million-plus substance users that get help, it is a good start. The average family tends to avoid confronting their loved one that is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, without any help the addiction becomes progressively worse. Early intervention is essential because the family finally regains control and saves the life of the addict. However, it is not easy to organize and perform an intervention without proper help.

Hiring a professional interventionist ensures the process is done correctly, and it works. There are intervention groups across the nation performing interventions and helping families get their loved ones into treatment. Interventions benefit families in many ways because it allows the family to begin the healing process. The first day spent with the interventionist is about family education and helping the family understand what intervention and addiction are. During this family counseling, the interventionist helps the family through any issues involving enabling and co-dependency. These are problems that would derail the intervention completely. The next day is when the intervention takes place—the family and anyone involved with the intervention is prepared to expect everything.

Substance abuse is an on-going issue within the United States. According to an Annual Surveillance Report of Drug-Related Risks and Outcomes, in 2016, 2,181,000 persons aged 12 and older reported they had received illicit or prescription drug treatment in the past year at any location. Only 1.2% of men and 0.6% of women received treatment, and 1.2% of persons aged 18 to 25 years old. The first step with rehabilitation is detox, which is a process of controlling withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Detoxification options include conventional or traditional detox and medical detox/withdrawal management. Typically, the severity of addiction and accompanying withdrawal symptoms determines what method of detox is required.

Detox should not be considered the only approach because the patient does not receive adequate counseling or support. The next phase of rehabilitation involves attending an inpatient or outpatient drug treatment center. Usually, an addiction assessment determines what is needed—a short-term drug rehab is a common approach, but long-term programs provide more extensive resources. Long-term drug rehabilitation programs provide services for three to six months or more. An intervention specialist would help a family determine what type of treatment is needed and what would be the appropriate length of time. Families should never wait for an addict to ask for help—early intervention saves lives, and hiring a professional interventionist ensures the addict receives the treatment they need.

Sources-https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/pubs/2018-cdc-drug-surveillance-report.pdf

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