The Addiction Epidemic

The Drug and Alcohol Epidemic

Addiction treatment involves giving a person with an addictive disorder tools and methods to help them to discontinue the use of a substance. 

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the drug epidemic

Addiction treatment involves giving a person with an addictive disorder tools and methods to help them to discontinue the use of a substance. A strong family history of addiction, including alcohol, is a warning that you are at a 4 to 5 times greater risk of developing addiction. Increased awareness of such a risk may help modify your attitude towards alcohol.

Of the billions of Federal drug spending dollars, only one-third went to prevention, research, and treatment – the smallest portion of that was spent on treatment. Alcohol remains to be the most abused drug in the USA, and the societal costs of untreated addiction are nearing the $800 billion mark.

Addiction: A National Health Concern

One in five men and one in ten women who visit their primary care providers meet the criteria for at risk drinking, problem drinking, or alcohol dependence (Manwell et al. 1998). Women are at a greater risk than men of developing alcoholism (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA, 1995). 

Women have reduced levels of gastric enzymes that metabolize alcohol; therefore women with alcohol problems have increased rates of breast cancer, cirrhosis, cardiomyopathy, and brain impairment (Journal of the American Medical Association).

Estimates also suggest that alcohol dependence is found in 25 percent of people who are seen by primary care physicians. Many of these patients do not consult addiction professionals; consequently, their primary health care providers have an opportunity to identify and refer patients to appropriate levels of treatment.

Fighting the Epidemic

Addiction is best treated by professionals trained in addiction medicine and other experts who specialize in the field of addiction treatment. Physicians and other health care workers are best suited to manage withdrawal and medical disorders associated with addiction. A team of addiction professionals is often needed to treat each person. The physician plays a key role in medical stabilization, but many others are needed beyond the initial management, such as…

  • Addiction counselors,
  • Social workers,
  • Family therapists,
  • Psychologists,
  • Pastors,
  • Psychiatrists, and more.

Several levels of care are available to treat addiction. Medically managed detoxification and rehabilitation facilities are used for cases of dependence that occur with potential medical and psychiatric complications.

Sometimes hospitalization is deemed medically necessary. In any treatment for addictive disorders, it is essential to completely abstain from mind-altering or mood-altering substances in order for treatment to succeed.

The purpose of detoxification is to safely withdraw the person at the initial stage of treatment. Detoxification is not treatment – it is only the beginning phase of treatment. The purpose of a rehabilitation program is to help the addicted person accept their disease, begin to develop skills for sober living, to begin the necessary ongoing treatment and to build a recovery support system.

Many addicted people benefit from long-term programs. These programs include but are not limited to, education, group and individual therapy addressing problems contributing to or resulting from the addiction and learning skills necessary for long term recovery.

A Family Disease

Any addiction, such as drug abuse and alcoholism, affects the entire family, not just the person who suffers from the addiction. This is also true for family members and friends of those who suffer from an emotional or psychological condition, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other difficulties that interfere with leading a productive life.

Quite often, family members do not realize how deeply they have been affected by chemical dependency and mental health conditions. Family involvement is a vital component of recovery. Research studies indicate that when family members receive help and participate in their own recovery, the likelihood of long-term recovery for the addicted person increases.

Self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Narcotics Anonymous, Families Anonymous, and many others offer a fellowship of people who are affected, directly or indirectly, by the same issues and whose common bond allows them to share their strengths, hopes, and experiences. Feel free to contact me at the number below if I can be of assistance to you and loved ones.

David A. Cunningham LADACII, NCACI, CADC, QCS
The Augustine Recovery Center
Director of Development
Phone | Email

Recovery Is One Phone Call Away

If you’re ready to face your addiction to alcohol, or if you have questions about alcohol addiction for a loved one, give us a call at (904) 217-0480. You can speak directly to one of our alcohol treatment specialists and learn more about our facility, our professional staff, alcohol treatment options, insurance, and more.