Substance Use & Addiction

Struggling with substance use can have a devastating impact on one’s life. If you or someone you know is fighting addiction, it is essential to know that you are not alone in your suffering.

The support you deserve is available.

Let’s look at addiction, how pervasive it is, and a few factors that may cause it.

WHAT IS ADDICTION? 

The American Psychological Association defines addiction as “a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence. People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life. They keep using alcohol or a drug even when they know it will cause problems. Yet several effective treatments are available, and people can recover from addiction and lead normal, productive lives.”

DRUG ADDICTION STATISTICS

According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 40.3 million Americans lived with a substance use disorder in 2020.

Below is a breakdown of additional 2020 findings:

  • Substance Use Disorders: In 2020, 28.3 million people had alcohol use disorder, 18.4 million had an illicit drug use disorder, and 6.5 million had alcohol and illicit drug use disorders.
  • Co-Occurring Mental Health Concern & Substance Use Disorder: In the adolescent population, 2.7% experienced a major depressive episode in concurrence with a substance use disorder. In adults, the rate was 6.7%.
  • COVID-19 & Substance Use: In June 2020, 13% of adults stated an initiation or increased substance use to cope with COVID-19 related stressors. Overdoses also increased by 18% in the early months of the pandemic when compared to the same months in 2019.

These numbers are overwhelming but prove that you’re genuinely not alone if you battle with a substance use concern.

CAUSES OF ADDICTION

The cause behind a person’s addiction is unique for everyone; it is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Several theories and models exist regarding potential causes for developing a substance use disorder.

A few commonly discussed risk factors are:

  • Genetics: Current research suggests a person’s genetic makeup accounts for approximately 40-60% of their addiction risk. Additionally, people living with a mental health disorder and adolescent youth are the two populations most at risk for developing a substance use disorder.
  • Environment: Factors such as family, school, and neighborhood environment can also increase the risk of developing an addiction—especially in children and teens. If a child witnesses chronic substance use or criminal activity, they are more likely to develop an addiction later in life. Additionally, peer pressure, performing poorly in school, or struggling with social skills may also increase risk in younger populations.
  • Early Use: According to research, those who begin to use substances from a young age are more likely to develop an addiction over time. This increased likelihood may also be related to developmental concerns or may be caused by a combination of social and biological risk factors.
  • Method of Use: Some studies suggest that smoking or injecting a substance can have a higher potential for substance misuse. Because drugs enter the body faster when smoked or injected, the sense of pleasure comes quick but can fade just as rapidly. This process often creates repeated use to experience that initial rush once again.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please know that you are not alone. Reach out today and seek the support you deserve.

References:

1. SAMHSA: Key Substance Use & Mental Health Indicators in the United States

2. American Psychological Association: Substance Use During the Pandemic

3. National Institute on Drug Abuse: What is Drug Addiction?4. American Addiction Centers: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Statistics

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