Yes, we’ve said it…The terrorist among us. You may think that’s going a little too far, but is it? Drug overdoses, especially those related to opioid addiction, have ravaged our country and have killed more Americans than terrorist attacks from the last 16 years. What’s more, since 2013, alcohol, benzodiazepines, cocaine, opioids, and other drugs have killed more Americans than World War I and World War II combined. From protests, to the election of Donald Trump, to the missile strike in Syria just last month, our country has certainly experienced several political controversies in the past year. Nevertheless, are we forgetting the biggest threat of all? As we scramble to take sides, and post our political views on social media, 91 Americans die every day from opioid drug overdoses.
As we worry about our kids eating the wrong things, playing too many video games, or hanging out with the wrong people, we don’t even realize that we welcome a drug dealer in our homes every day. Television commercials, social media ads, magazines, and every other source of advertising pushes the idea that medication will solve any imaginable ailment someone could suffer from; subliminally telling our children medication will always be the answer. Some may believe this thinking is a bit harsh, but 80% of all opioid addictions begins with a simple prescription from your neighborhood doctor.
The Proof Is In The Pudding
It’s clear that the drug epidemic has gotten out of control. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at the numbers. We have included two graphs that we would like you to consider. The first is a graph of substance abuse related deaths compared to those we have lost to wars, such as WWI, WWII, and the Vietnam War. The second graph illustrates opioid-related drug overdoses in 2014, broken down by each state.
As these numbers are staggering, you may wonder, how have we gotten to this point and where do we go from here? Although our legislators have begun to take the necessary steps to fight drug overdoses and the crisis in which we find ourselves, is it enough? Consider this…our country has spent several trillion dollars on foreign wars, yet the 21st Century Cures Act has allocated $2 billion for the addiction problem in American. Additionally, that is to be spent over a two year period, and dispersed over all 50 states. The numbers simply do not add up.
Yes, $2 billion is a large sum of money, but when broken down, this is what we get… There are 20.5 million Americans addicted to drugs and alcohol. When you divide that $2 billion, each person would get roughly $98. Now, considering that 1 in 10 people receive treatment in the US, and the Cures Act’s intention is to address those that do not receive the help they need, we will only include them into the equation. 90% of the 20.5 million Americans is roughly 18,450,000 million. $2 billion divided amongst those individuals would give everyone roughly $108 for substance abuse treatment. Seeing as an average rehab stay can cost thousands of dollars, not to mention the money it would cost to implement new prevention methods and criminal justice programs, it is clear our efforts have not even begun to scratch the surface.
We have become a generation that is completely reliant upon medication to “fix” the problem. Whether it be Adderall for a child’s hyper behavior, or Valium to ease our anxious moments, or Percocet to remove the aches and tenderness after a dental procedure. Although drug addiction is not a new problem and people needing help is not a new concept, the current state of affairs is surely new to most Americans. Although those of us living in recovery know it be a mere falsehood or stigma, for decades alcoholism and drug addiction was considered a moral failing of the weak, and those who died from drug overdoses asked for it. It is only now, when addiction has welcomed its way into suburban homes and the offices of the elite, that we are finally starting to pay attention.
It began in the late 80s and 90s when the medical world began treating pain differently. Rather than having someone miss work for an extended period of time after a surgical procedure, or to avoid surgery all together, medical professionals began prescribing medications such as OxyContin more often. And, why wouldn’t they? Perdue Pharma, the manufacturers of the drug, had us believe it was less-addictive compared to other opiate pain medications. Although the company lost $630 million in a lawsuit for downplaying the addictiveness of the drug, we are still feeling the after effects 20 years later.
Furthermore, as prescription medications are where addiction begins for many, it is not the only culprit in drug overdoses across the country. Several other considerations certainly play a role in the overdose crisis. Some examples can include, but are not limited to, synthetic drugs like Fentanyl being mixed in heroin, benzodiazepines being present in 30% of all opioid drug overdoses, or counterfeit pills that are making their way into our country via the internet, Chinese labs, and Mexican cartels.
Treating Addiction & Avoiding Drug Overdoses
Treating addiction has certainly evolved in the last few decades. New treatment modalities have been introduced and approaches have been taken. The ironic part is that many medical professionals and government officials are now leaning in the direction of medication-assisted treatment as the “go-to” treatment option. Although we understand that in certain scenarios this modality can be beneficial, it should not be considered in every case. Nevertheless, those who have received an award grant from the Cures Act, plan to spend the majority of the allocated amounts for this modality.
It’s puzzling as to why we always fall back to the crutch of a medication. It’s the reason why we find ourselves in the worst health crisis of the last 100 years, yet professionals across the country feel it’s the best way to address the problem. If we simply want to avoid drug overdoses, then yes, this medicine will certainly do that. But if we want to eradicate addiction and treat the disease, it will require much more than a quick fix.
Drug addiction needs to be addressed on all fronts. From physical symptoms, to mental and emotional concerns, to healing the spirit, addiction treatment must tackle every aspect of the disease. Thankfully, there are still countless professionals and drug rehabs still available that believe in treating the whole person, rather than hoping a medication will solve our problems. If you or a loved one is suffering from drug addiction, you should know all of your options. Educate yourself on substance abuse, the warning signs and symptoms, and the various treatment modalities. Rome was not built in day. It will take much longer to address the addiction problem in our country than it did to create it, but we have to start somewhere. That start can happen with you.
Contact Clearbrook Today
If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, please don’t wait until it’s too late. Help is available and recovery is possible. For more than 40 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing effective treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction. We have had the privilege of watching many restore their lives and relationships through the process of recovery. The same can happen for you. Please contact our Admissions Specialists and begin your intake process today.