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How the United States Fails at Treating Drug & Alcohol Addiction


The Problem: Millions of Americans suffer from alcoholism or addiction to legal and illegal drugs, but only a fraction are being treated, according to a report released this year by the surgeon general. One in seven people in the United States is expected to develop a substance use disorder at some point and only 1 in 10 will receive treatment. The report is the first from a surgeon general to address substance use disorders and the wider range of health problems related to alcohol and drugs.  It calls for, among other things, a cultural change in understanding that addiction is a brain disease, not a character flaw.

“It’s time to change how we view addiction,” Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the surgeon general, said in releasing the report. “Not as a moral failing but as a chronic illness that must be treated with skill, urgency, and compassion. The way we address this crisis is a test for America.”

We decided to sift thru some of 2016 & 2017’s reports and break down some of the most pressing stats to better understand the general community and how we can bring awareness and closure to those who are seeking help and or might need help and support but do not even realize it themselves.

General Population Statistics

Most Treated Substances

Although alcohol is by far the most abused drug among people in Recovery, the survey from Recovery Brands revealed in 2017 that nearly 70% of people in recovery needed help with a drinking problem and a shocking 52.87% of respondents sought the most treatment for alcohol abuse.

America has turned a blind eye to addiction. No wonder so many people walk into walls when paths of recovery are possible. Criminal justice approaches and interdiction are ineffective; they have become prohibitively expensive because they don’t work and can make matters worse. It’s time to give the treatment a chance.

The Solution? Solving the problem isn’t going to take place by just passing a few laws or by having health experts start a few more programs. This is going to take all of us coming together to do our part. What do I mean? Well, parents talking to kids about addiction early on. People who start drinking before age 15 are four times as likely to become addicted later in life than those who start at 20+. This means schools need to implement prevention programs that do more than that D.A.R.E. program that we were familiar with as kids.


This means doctors receive training on how to screen, diagnose and treat substance use disorders. Not by prescribing more drugs leading to side effects either. There’s a holistic approach the majority of the times and when it comes to addiction recovery there’s only one way to do it and that’s quitting drugs PERIOD.

Until we do that, more Americans will die, societal costs will continue to escalate, families will be bankrupted and cast asunder and communities will remain at risk for the crime that untreated addiction spawns. Addiction touches everyone’s life. It’s a disease that doesn’t discriminate and it’s one that’s taking an extraordinary toll on our communities across the country.

These are alarming numbers. Fortunately, recovery can start with one simple call or a quick & easy one application.

These stats were pulled from recent reports from the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) & their National Survey on Drug Use & Health (NSDUH) which focuses on patterns of substance use and mental illness among adults 18+ of different sexual orientations. It’s odd that the data does not address the behavioral health of transgender because the NSDUH does not include questions identifying those populations.








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