Substance Abuse is a national crisis. The use of drugs ranging from merely recreational to more mind altering is affecting all ages and destroying families and lives. In the recent year of 2017, 19.7 million Americans ranging from 12 years and older suffered from addiction. Regarding alcohol, of those addicted, 74 percent dealt with misuse, while 38 percent dealt with illicit drug use. In all, 740 billion was spent or lost on the issue. From workplace hours lost, healthcare expenses and criminal related costs, the amount of money, time and effort to curb this type of abuse is staggering. (1)
The national crisis continues in both 2018 and 2019 to show similar trends. Whether it is basic addiction with beer and liquor, or through the darker use of heroin, cocaine, or meth, addiction is tearing the fabric of the nation apart. So what is the source of this problem? What is the underlying issues that are tearing apart so many lives? It is important to understand addiction and what causes it to fight the root of this social epidemic.
Addiction can be mental or physical. In essence, it is a dependence upon other substances or habits to escape a reality or replace something loss. The dependence can very in extremes. Obviously physical addictions can be the most dangerous. Physical addictions enslave the person to the necessity of a foreign substance to properly function. Mental addictions can also entrap someone into habits that can become very hard to escape. These habits can be substances or also things or functions such as gaming or gambling.
While smoking, drinking and illicit drugs are the most common form of addictions one first thinks of, one must also be aware that addiction can involve other habits, ranging from gaming and gambling to even sex. The addiction is the outlet or inappropriate escape from a reality. Addiction to a substance can itself can be genetic and nearly 40 to 60 percent of Americans can fall prey to this, but many forms of addiction are due to lack of contentment.
All human beings look to find happiness in this life. Some have an easier time and are blessed with family life, love, a home and hobbies, but many are constantly searching for happiness. Happiness is something that can never be complete in temporal reality. So individuals who seek to find happiness in material things only will be greatly disappointed when those things break or are stolen. Others who place their whole stock of happiness in others can also find despair and loss. People break relationships, or even worst, our most loved ones eventually die. So while love is far more noble than possessions, even the happiness afforded from love can be lost in this world.
The lack of a strong spiritual and moral compass is a big problem for despair and while spiritual people tend to cope better, it does not mean spiritual and religious people are immune to drug use and addictive behaviors. Spiritual people can lose faith and suffer break downs.
Ultimately, it is how one copes with loss and despair. How well can one cope will determine how healthy their reactions are to grief and loss. Support and other environmental issues are obviously important in determining how well individuals cope as well. While some individuals may be strong and able to handle adversity, many are not. Bad family life at a young age, trauma, mental issues, and other financial issues limit some to the ability to cope with adversity.
This opens many to the lure of addictions. The need to escape reality and cope through illicit means to smother the pain and the loss. It is because of this that many individuals find themselves in the vicious cycle of addiction. The new illusion of happiness leads them down dark paths that they are unaware of. Instead of killing the pain, the addictions only break the individual further down.
Substance abuse is a way individuals look to cope. This unfortunate fact leads to the national crisis now faced. Here are some sobering facts. 4 percent of the adolescent population faces some sort of addiction problem. That is 1 in every 25 teenagers. 3.4 million young adults, aged between 18 and 25 suffer from addiction. That is around 10 percent of the young adult population. 2,5 million are involved with illicit drug use. For ages 26 and older, there were over 13 million cases of substance abuse in 2017. 4.3 million involved illicit drug use. Ages of 65 and older reported around 1 million suffering from substance abuse. (2)
The largest drug abused obviously is alcohol. As a legal drug, anyone over 21 may purchase which leaves it open to almost everyone to encounter with minimal penalties. 14.5 million individuals in 2017 accounted for alcohol related addiction statistics. An estimated 88, 000 people died in 2017 due to alcohol related deaths and the health issues related to drinking are even higher. While drinking may seem to be a normal thing, it is also one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States, ranking third. (3)
In regards to other uses of drugs, marijuana contributed to 4.1 million people. With many states looking to legalize marijuana, the illegal nature of it will no longer be an issue, but like any addiction, whether legal or illegal, it still can have its consequences. Marijuana is a gateway drug to many other dangerous drugs and opens the mind to exploring different forms of ways to cope with stress, trauma and depression. (3)
Experimentation with prescription drugs, in particular pain relievers is on the rise. 1.7 million people misused pain relievers in 2017, leading to multiple stricter laws in the use of them within the medical field. This attempt to curb misuse has led to less effective pain management strategies for individuals who really need the pain relief. The biggest issue is how to balance need against risk of addiction. In addition to prescription pills, 2017 saw 652,00 cases of Heroin use. The deadly reality of Heroin is that 25 percent of its users become physically addicted. Cocaine also saw 966,00 cases of addiction. (4)
These figures towards more dangerous and addicting drugs and the emergence of Meth show a big problem in America with regards to substance abuse. If one adds, smoking, vaping, and other addictions ranging from gambling and gaming to sex, one can see a true problem in emerging in how Americans cope with stress, trauma, depression and loss. Counseling is a big first step not only to help individuals cope with addiction and the cause of it, but also preventative counseling in forms of stress, anger, and grief counseling.
Substance Abuse Counseling Certification
The American Institute of Health Care Professionals offers a Substance Abuse Counseling Certification for qualified professionals who seek to help others deal with addiction and properly cope with real life issues. The program is online and independent study. The certification for Substance Abuse Counseling lasts four years and can be renewed.
Licensed counselors and those who have the necessary education and work in addiction facilities are eligible to become certified in Substance Abuse Counseling. If you are interested and would like to help curb this problem in America, then please consider the Substance Abuse Counseling Certification from AIHCP and see if it meets your academic and professional needs.