It starts out simply. It might be experimental or from just wanting to take the edge off a hard day. It may have been that first experience with the amazing feeling of euphoria that comes from taking a strong prescription pain killer, and before you know it, your whole life has become centered on trying to replicate that first-time sensation. Whether from these or other more intense motivations that can start us down a road that is difficult to get back from on our own, there are effective, compassionate treatment programs to help change the addictive behavior.
Not Just a Family Thing
This slippery slope is not one that people are equipped to handle on their own, regardless of how much rationalizing goes in to trying to assuage feelings of guilt or the fear of knowing that the problem is a bigger one than may be tackled alone. While a problem shared is a problem halved, there are not many in our sphere of existence who will accept the challenge of taking that walk with a friend in need. This is not to say that friends can’t help. It is just that we know far more about addiction and what it means to come off the powerful attractions that seem to force us down a long, lonely path of self-destruction, including driving many of those friends away.
A Power Even Greater than Judgment
It is easy for others to criticize offering only the admonition that it is just best to avoid drugs and alcohol altogether. This is an easy task when everything is going along fine. While the insidious draw into addiction is not necessarily a character flaw, it can seem that way in the face of realizing that it is not so easy to simply stop.
There are powerful reasons for this, not the least of which is how these substances can change our brain chemistry making us slaves to the sensations they produce. Further, it is known that from the first exposure the brain is fast working to counteract the effects. This is what causes us to quickly build up a tolerance thus forcing the need for more and more of the substance to duplicate the original sensation.
A double entendre painted on the roof of a cabin in the mountains that can only be read once you climb high enough to look down upon it expresses this succinctly: “The higher you get, the higher you get.” Regardless of how it is accomplished, coming down is a long, arduous process, whether mountain climbing or overcoming addition. We have reached an age where there are capable care givers who know and understand what is needed to assist in the process of coming home to oneself again.
The cold, hard facts support the need for all of us to recognize the importance of seeking help to rise above the challenge of addiction. The sad reality is that statistics start at people ages 12 and older. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there were over 23 million people who needed treatment for drug or alcohol abuse problems in 2009 alone. Despite the need, only 2.6 million of those who needed treatment received it.
This breaks down across age groups as follows:
- Ages 12-17 at 7.5 percent
- Ages 25-29 at an average of 14.6 percent
- Ages 30-39 at an average of 11.5 percent
- Ages 40-44 at 12.6 percent
- Ages 45-49 at 11.5 percent
- Ages 50-59 at 10.4 percent
Those 18 to 19 years old averaged 4.1 percent while the percentage plummets starting at age 60 dropping to 1.2 percent and below.
The Benefits Obtained from Addiction Treatment
In treatment, the goal of non-addictive use encompasses abstinence and moderation through an understanding of long-term recovery. Building upon the creation of a substantive identity intended to replace the addictive one, the focus is on harm-reduction. This process affirms powerfully new connections supporting life-saving interventions, while recognizing and honoring that many patients are tackling more than just their addictive behavior. The psychological and emotional issues that present themselves are the same ones that were there prior to developing an addicted state of existence.
People who are struggling with addiction are not defective. Seeking treatment is possibly the best way to pay self-recognition to knowing that there are unintended injuries sustained in life that makes it extraordinarily difficult to overcome alone. Even the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has established a mission focused on helping to correct the damage done as a result of unintended injury.
While the government remains dedicated to curbing the over-prescribing tendencies of doctors and cracking down on “pill-mills” contributing to the overabundance of controlled substances, more people addicted to these medications are receiving treatment and really learning to understand the dangers of prescription drug abuse and the nature of addiction.