The Growing Problem of Substance Abuse and Addiction

There’s been a worrying rise in the numbers of US citizens becoming addicted to both legal and illegal substances over recent years. Drug and alcohol abuse have been problems in society for centuries, but the current availability and variety of stimulants and mood enhancers is making the problem exponentially worse. Despite the public health campaigns and freely accessible information warning of the dangers of experimenting with addictive substances, the attraction seems in many cases to be outweighing the harsh reality of becoming an addict. What are the current challenges to the healthcare industry in the field of substance abuse and addiction?

Why people are still becoming addicts

There are many reasons why people fall into the trap of developing an addiction. You may become curious and want to experience what it feels like to have an amphetamine rush, or see why your friends make such a fuss about cocaine. You might be struggling with emotional problems, need some stress relief, or feel exhausted and want a pick-me-up. You can often be pressured into trying addictive substances by peer groups, or forced into taking illegal drugs by abusive family members. The very fact that there are so many reasons for trying drugs and other substances in the first place is one of the main challenges to finding a solution to the problem. Trying to quit your addiction can feel like an insurmountable challenge, and many who try will relapse, perpetuating the cycle and developing depression and low self-esteem.

Why addiction is such a threat

The most dangerous aspect of substance abuse is how easy it is to become addicted to the feeling you get from using. Many drugs are addictive from the first time of use, but people still believe they will be able to control themselves and not become addicted. By the time they realize they can’t live without their drug of choice, it’s too late; they need another fix, and when the substance takes hold that can mean doing whatever it takes to find the money to pay for the addiction. Criminal activity is intrinsically related to substance abuse, both in the production and distribution, and in the actions of addicts desperate to raise cash for more supplies. The effects on mental and physical health are immense, communities suffer, and people who could have led happy and productive lives are subsumed by their addiction. It’s left to their friends and relatives to try and help them recover, which if you learn more about you’ll see can deeply affect entire families.

Not all substance abuse is related to illegal activities and supplies. Tobacco, alcohol, and prescription drugs are still the most common addictions in society, and they are perfectly lawful. Of course, there are illegal aspects to each such as the production of moonshine, import of untaxed cigarettes, and prescription theft, but in the main, these are legitimate activities. When approaching the problems of addiction, it’s common for practitioners and other interested parties to separate the legal from the illegal, but in fact, alcoholism and abuse of prescription drugs are two of the most worrying addictions in modern society. If we want to stem the rise of abuse and addiction, we need to act together to develop effective interventions.