ADDICTION AND SOCIETY
According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 16.5% of people aged 12 or older in the U.S. in 2021 (46.3 million people) met the criteria for addiction and needed substance use treatment. This is significant news because, in years prior, the reported figure for addicted Americans was closer to 19 to 21 million people.
Anyone who has loved an addicted person knows: Addiction comes with enormous costs. Some of these costs are emotional and mental. The addicted person suffers from the overwhelming compulsion to use drugs and the physical sickness and deterioration that accompanies the use of alcohol and drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.
Words have power; they can inspire and heal, or they can hurt and destroy, so let's chose our words wisely.
A headline in the New York Times reads, “Shortchanged: Why British Life Expectancy Has Stalled.” With just a glance at the headline, I was hit with a wave of deja vu. Then I remembered I’d written about this subject before, except in the context of American lifespan stalling and receding.
Dying is just a part of the life cycle. But the circumstances under which people die can be significant, especially when avoidable. Death rates from drugs, alcohol, and suicide are at all-time highs. These death rates are higher than they ever have been since recording for such deaths began in 1999.
When we examine drug and alcohol addiction as a severe humanitarian crisis, the first place we’re going to look is within our own families. We’ll check close to home, as this is the area that impacts our lives the most.
The subject of drug and alcohol addiction is riddled with stereotypes and stigma. Our negative view of addiction and addicts is actually a big part of the reason as to why we have such a terrible drug problem. We refuse to confront this problem as the health crisis that it is.
“The opioid epidemic.” We hear this line on the news, on social media, in discussions within our communities, and so on. It is a well-known fact at this point that the United States is struggling with an opioid epidemic.
When we look at significant illnesses like cancer, diabetes, MS, heart conditions, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and so on, our hearts go out to those who struggle with such illnesses. We feel strongly for them and for the struggles they inevitably face.
It’s no small task to measure the addiction potential of a substance. But researchers still put in the effort do this in order to furnish us with valuable information about different drugs. That information can help us greatly in addressing the drug crisis that our nation is mired in.