Published on October 11, 2021

addiction and hope

Substance Abuse

Since 2011, October has also been declared as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month and serves as a time to highlight the vital role of substance abuse prevention in both individual and community health.

It also serves to remember those who have lost their lives to substance abuse, to acknowledge those in recovery, as well as children, parents, family, and friends supporting them. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of June 2020, 13% of Americans reported starting or increasing substance use as a way of coping with stress or emotions related to COVID-19. Overdoses have also spiked since the onset of the pandemic. A reporting system called ODMAP shows that the early months of the pandemic brought an 18% increase nationwide in overdoses compared with those same months in 2019. The trend has continued throughout 2020, according to the American Medical Association, which reported in December that more than 40 U.S. states have seen increases in opioid-related mortality along with ongoing concerns for those with substance use disorders.

According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, “Studies show that the earlier an individual starts smoking, drinking, or using other drugs, the greater the likelihood of developing addiction. 9 out of 10 people who abuse or are addicted to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs began using these substances before they were 18. People who began using addictive substances before age 15 are nearly 7 times likelier to develop a substance problem than those who delay first use until age 21 or older. Every year that substance use is delayed during the period of adolescent brain development, the risk of addiction and substance abuse decrease.” In fact, “substance use disorders” encompass so many items that we have ready access to every day: alcohol, cannabis, prescriptions (opioids, sedatives, etc.), inhalants, tobacco, even caffeine. The  The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostical Statistical Manual – 5th edition characterizes these conditions as patterns of problematic and damaging use of an intoxicating substance, which leads to impairment and/or distress. Notice that this definition does not confide the state to a particular substance. A substance by any other name is still a substance. 

Here are the American Addition Centers’ top five ways to help prevent drug use. By sharing this knowledge with those closest to you, you yourself may be able to prevent them from doing drugs, too.

  1. Effectively deal with peer pressure.
  2. Deal with life pressure.
  3. Seek help for mental illness.
  4. Examine every risk factor.
  5. Keep a well-balanced life. 

You can also share or take an online substance abuse self-assessment if you think yourself or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. 

If you discover that you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please use the resources at your disposal! Speak with a loved one. There is no need to take all of this on alone. Additionally, if your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), reach out to get connected with a licensed clinician, or perhaps your Primary Care Physician. Explore any support groups in your area. Whatever you are struggling with, there are a variety of resources out there to help. Allow yourself to build a team of advocates who care for you and support you.

The good news?  Addiction is manageable! It is the only chronic, progressive, potentially terminal disease in which the patient, not the doctor or family member, has control over the outcome. Stick with it and achieve long-term recovery. That's the good news! 

The amazing news?  Addiction is also the only disease in which people in recovery are not just restored to their previous lives but also become better and healthier than they were before their illness. Positive changes occur when recovering addicts and their families learn new habits, new behaviors, and better life and coping skills. That's amazingly good news!

At LifeWork Strategies, we encourage you to take this opportunity to practice self-awareness and self-care for not only yourself, but your loved ones and coworkers as well.

Interested in learning more about LifeWork Strategies EAP? Give us a call today (800) 777-8138.

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