It is National Drug and Alcohol Fact Week! This educational week acknowledges information as it relates drugs and alcohol. We thought this would be an opportune time to squash some addiction myths relating to drug and alcohol addiction recovery. Our objective is to promote the FACTS and dispel the myths.
There are over 300 million people in the United States, with 22 million dealing with addiction. To put the 22 million into perspective, that would equate to the entire population of Texas.
In 2016, more than 60,000 people lost their life due to a drug overdose. The greatest increase is in heroin-related deaths. There was a “6.2-fold increase from 2002 to 2015” of heroin-deaths alone according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
In the year 2013, it was estimated that only about 2 million of the 22 million drug addicted individuals, received treatment at a treatment center. What is even more alarming about this, is that 90 percent of drug addicts do not seek any help with their condition.
This leaves the other 10 percent of individuals who do seek the help they need.
Why is the number of those seeking help so extremely low when deaths are so terrifyingly high? This is a confounding problem we face.
It is important to address addiction as an issue and even more important to dispel these addiction myths. Not only are many people dying, but there are still millions of individuals struggling daily with the disease.
Addiction is recognized as a “complex disease of the brain and body that involves compulsive use of one or more substances despite serious health and social consequences”.
In the brain of an addict the “reward center” of the brain that produces a pleasurable feeling, is high jacked by the drug or substance. The brain naturally produces a regulated amount of dopamine (a reward neurotransmitter). The use of the substance or intake of alcohol produces an excesses release of dopamine each time it used.
This results in a “high”. Once this high wears off, the individual’s brain craves more of the drug to obtain the same pleasurable rush it received the first time. To continuously achieve the high the drug will have to produce a similar dopamine release each time. This requires an ever-increasing amount of the target substance.
While an individual may appear to choose whether or not to engage in an activity involving drugs or alcohol, they do not choose to become addicted. We at BTG understand this disease is not a choice, but is complex and multidimensional. We also understand addiction impacts the whole person emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
It is more than simply overcoming the “urge to use”. First understanding that addiction is a CHRONIC and COMPLEX disease is an important initial step in eliminating this addiction myth. There are neurological changes that alter one’s ability to think and act. And while they may able to verbalize their desire to quit, the brain will convince otherwise.
Recovery from substance abuse requires a process that addresses the whole person. With some tools and support, recovering addicts will be able to better combat physical and psychological dependence of their drug use healthfully.
Additionally, developing healthy coping strategies to deal with the stressors in life that perpetuate the use of drugs and alcohol is yet another essential step.
There is always hope. When one thing doesn’t work out, you keep on trying. If you are walking down a street and you fall in a hole you get back up. If you continue to take the same path and continue to fall in a hole, it may be time to reevaluate a new route. Same goes for everyday life.
Mistakes and falls lead to learning, if you allow yourself to take something away from the situation. It’s important to know that a fall does not mean failure; rather it’s a growth opportunity. For some, it is the relapse that becomes a gift of desperation that sets out a new life path.
Allow this education fact week to enhance your knowledge and inform you about some very real issues we face as a nation. It is important for us to better understand the disease of addiction. Only then are we are better equipped to offer help and guidance to those who need it.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and needs help, Contact us at 540-535-1111. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions, support, and help you in finding hope to a life free from the grasp of addiction.