Addiction has always been a serious illness that impacts a wide cross-section of men and women. Many individuals have generations of family members who have struggled with alcoholism or drug addiction.
There have always been serious consequences to addiction, as well. In previous eras, individuals struggled with going cold turkey or being admitted into a mental health facility. Sadly, many lost their families, their jobs and even their lives because they did not get the help they needed.
Today, the consequences of addiction are still substantial. There are undoubtedly health, legal and social ramifications that can devastate the individual with drug or alcohol addiction, as well as their family. The good news is that there are also advances in addiction treatment and the public’s general view of addiction, which are helping improve the lives of individuals battling the chronic disease.
Health Consequences Of Addiction
Alcohol and drug abuse can have a profoundly negative impact on the body. It not only deteriorates systems and organs over time and can permanently alter brain and heart function, it can even lead to death.
Today, opioid addiction is becoming an increasing problem with nearly 2 million individuals in the United States addicted to prescription painkillers, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. In fact, opioid addiction was the cause of more than 18,000 overdose deaths in 2014. This rate is nearly four times greater than the 1999 mark.
This increase is leading health care providers, politicians and community leaders to develop new strategies for combating this growing problem. Currently, there are several bills in Congress addressing drug addiction treatment that may enable addicts to gain greater access to treatment.
While the “war on drugs” continues to be focused on incarcerating those who are caught possessing illicit drugs, there is a growing push to focus efforts on treatment, rather than jail time. During this election year, the country’s presidential candidates may debate and discuss the following topics:
- Opioid addiction
- The legalization of marijuana
- The high number of individuals currently incarcerated on non-violent, drug-related offenses
Only time will tell who will win the election and how, if any, significant changes to the war on drugs will be made by the incoming president.
One of the biggest social changes when it comes to addiction is the now widely accepted concept that addiction is a chronic disease that requires professional treatment. Previous generations considered addiction to be a character flaw or weakness. This led to the stigma of addiction and the lack of proper treatment.
As a society, increased compassion and understanding about addiction is helping fuel better treatment options, as well as more funding for research into addiction treatment medications. This includes new research into innovative vaccines to curb addiction and even prevent fatal overdoses. As new discoveries are made, there is increasing promise that there will soon be better treatment options to help individuals sustain recovery and not relapse.
There Has Never Been A Better Time To Get Help
Evidence-based treatments have made it possible for many individuals to overcome the grip of addiction. Today, treatment is professional, personalized and focused on long-term recovery. If you or a loved one has been putting off getting help, don’t wait another day.