Drinking and drug use are prevalent parts of American society, but misconceptions persist about how our nationwide addiction epidemic has taken shape and what it entails. As we observe National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, here is some lesser-known information about substance use and abuse.
1. The COVID-19 Crisis Dramatically Increased Alcohol and Drug Use
The pandemic has significantly affected alcohol and drug abuse. Many Americans have reported increasing or starting substance use due to the global health crisis, citing stress and boredom as the top reasons for the spike. People with substance use disorders are also at a higher risk of adverse outcomes if they catch SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
2. Most People Living With Addiction Are Productive Members of Society
For many people, the word “addiction” conjures a stereotypical image of someone whose life is falling apart and who starts drinking or using soon after they wake up. In this imaginary scenario, they may be unemployed or have spent time in jail due to their habits.
This picture may be accurate in some cases, but it isn’t always. Many people who live with addiction separate their daily responsibilities from their problematic behavior so successfully that people around them may have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. However, even if an addicted person holds a steady job and contributes to society, that doesn’t make their issues any less severe. They still need to get help before their illness jeopardizes their ability to lead a successful life.
3. Counterfeit Pills Are Jeopardizing Lives
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is many times more potent than morphine. It is also a chameleon, coming in various forms and colors. People who buy prescription pills on the black market are unknowingly gambling with their lives, because dealers can press fentanyl pills into molds that look exactly like prescriptions such as Xanax, Percocet, hydrocodone or other drugs.
Fentanyl binds to opioid receptors in the brain, causing euphoria while simultaneously suppressing central nervous system functions like breathing. Without medical attention, someone who takes fentanyl can quickly experience respiratory failure.
4. Addiction Is a Chronic Brain Disease
Addiction takes hold by changing the reward circuits in the brain. Some drugs are powerful enough to cause this effect after only a few uses. Once a tolerance progresses into physical and psychological dependence, withdrawal symptoms will follow when someone tries to stop drinking or using. Withdrawal can be uncomfortable and dangerous, and signifies that the brain is struggling to maintain balance in the absence of drugs.
5. Addiction Treatment Helps People Heal
According to a national study published by Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, 75% of people with addiction can recover with help. This statistic even applies to people who have used hard drugs for prolonged periods. With support and therapy, they went on to live fulfilling, healthy lives. Despite addiction’s chronic, incurable nature, it’s possible to manage the symptoms of this illness and regain control.
If you are struggling with substance use, don’t lose hope. Cumberland Heights is the first addiction treatment center in Tennessee to earn certification from the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Our comprehensive continuum of care has guided hundreds of people on a path to long-term recovery. We can help you stop drinking or using drugs and get your health back. For more information, request help today.