May 16th, 2014 – The abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs costs the United States over $600 billion in lost work productivity, healthcare expenses, and the costs associated with crime, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The problem among young adults (aged 18 to 25) remains persistent with 21.3% reporting the use of illicit drugs within the last month, and binge drinking by full-time enrolled college students (aged 18 to 22) at 40.1% according to SAMHSA’s 2012 National Survey on Drug and Health.
Individuals with a mild to moderate mental health disorder are more likely to also have a substance use disorder; in fact, nearly 8.4 million people are classified as having both and self-reported using illicit drugs or alcohol within the last year. Most tragically, substance abuse is a highly treatable disorder and 12% of those with a substance abuse disorder exhibit suicidal ideation or behavior, a 400% increase over the 3% of individuals without a substance abuse disorder who report the same symptoms.
Alcohol remains the most common form of substance abuse in the United States. Unfortunately, 15% of Americans with an Alcohol Use Disorder, nearly 17 million people, never seek treatment. Most people associate binge drinking with college students, but the behavior represents the most common form of excessive alcohol use in the country. Binge drinking is defined as having 4 drinks or more for women and 5 drinks or more for men in a period of 2 hours or less. Nearly 1 in 6 adults binge drinks at least 4 times per month, consuming about 8 drinks or more per binge.
In addition to alcohol, some of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States are marijuana (over 21 million users), heroin, cocaine, or hallucinogens (nearly 25 million users), and non-medical prescription drugs (8 million users).
Fortunately, many options exist to help identify and address substance abuse among our friends and family. From online therapeutic solutions used by corporate employee assistance programs, mental health providers and community health centers, to substance abuse counseling and treatment centers located across the country, choices exist to fit each individual’s need for care.
5 Great Resources To Help Those You Care About Address Substance Abuse:
- Your personal physician or mental health professional will always be the best place to start. Be open and honest with your questions, and they will guide you to the best resources in your community to help.
- Learn about the issues involved. The Centers for Disease Control has some great information on their website.
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse offers a detailed listing of substances commonly abused in the United States. Each article describes the substance in question and provides links to curated information with more detail.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services offers a rich source of information for those seeking help for themselves, or trying to learn more about specific resources to help others.
- SAMHSA offers this fantastic tool to quickly find substance abuse treatment centers in your area.
Alex Burgess is the Chief Marketing Officer of manxworx marketing, a healthcare market development consultancy focused on global Health IT companies. Alex has spent the last 17 years growing brands, opening up new markets to innovative healthcare technologies, and leading highly effective marketing teams. Follow him on Twitter: @AlexHBurgess
Cassie Brailer is a Healthcare Research Analyst at manxworx marketing. Cassie focuses on population health in behavioral and physical medicine, US healthcare reform, and emerging healthcare information technologies. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @manxworx