Our Nation in Crisis: Drugs, Alcohol & Suicide Run Rampant
We Need a National Resilience Strategy
In a time of instant access to virtually anything around the world, and fingertip connection to friends and family, one would think children and adults are feeling more unified than ever before, but that could not be farther from the truth. The drug and alcohol use disorder, and suicide rates are at an all-time high, signifying a nationwide epidemic with roots in loneliness and despair. As noted in a recent report for Trust for America’s Health, death rates are projected to reach 2 million by 2025 if the current trend continues. They report that drug-related deaths have tripled since 2000, alcohol-induced deaths have increased 37%, and suicides have increased by 28% from 2000-2015, with numbers even higher since the study commenced.
At Decision Point Center, our Prescott drug and alcohol rehab specialists are working diligently to help fight this epidemic, knowing that each person we can reach is a life saved. No effort is too small, as our nation needs all hands on deck if we are going to turn this trajectory around. We provide treatment for drug and alcohol use disorders as well as behavioral therapy and life skill therapies for adults 18 and older, taking a traditional and holistic approach to comprehensive treatment. Our nation is in desperate need for an all-inclusive National Resilience Strategy, argues the article’s author, and our team could not agree more.
Children Are Set Up for Addiction and Mental Health Problems
The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) system of evaluation uses a rubric of factors present in early childhood to determine the likelihood of a child developing mental health issues, addiction, chronic pain related to trauma, or suicidal tendencies. This rubric includes parents with mental health issues, parents who are abusive to each other or the children, early exposure to stress at home, living below the poverty line, and other factors. The more boxes a child checks, the more likely they are to need support to combat eventual addiction or suicide.
Teens and Adults in the System: Contributing Factors
When we examine teens or adults that are already struggling, many of them have more than one “box” checked, proving that these factors do indeed affect adolescent and adult drug and alcohol dependency. In addition, adult life factors also play a role in a person’s probability to struggle with drug or alcohol abuse, including:
- Family and social relationships
- Feelings of hopelessness or despair
- Social and economic development delays
- Lack of financial stability or economic opportunity
- Poor working conditions, workplace adversity
- Community with poor social capital
To counter these factors, and give patients a fighting chance, the nation needs to make a change. Only 1 in 10 children with mental health issues get the prescribed treatment, and 4 in 9 adults. What are the remaining patients doing to cope with their mental health problems? Often, they turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, or if they see no hope, suicide.
Unfortunately, early childhood stress and trauma, as well as young adult and adult trauma can also lead to manifestations of chronic pain. Chronic pain is quite often treated with opioids, which is a major contributing factor in the opioid epidemic. Once a patient finds relief from the pain using prescribed medication, it is tragically easy to develop an addiction. After a prescription runs out, many patients turn to street drugs to find the same relief. Both prescription and street forms of opiates contribute in mass to the drug-related death count in the US.
What Needs to Change?
For change to occur, a nationwide response is critical. We need to enact early prevention and support for families, and effective, comprehensive treatment systems, and there must be a shift in how the nation handles drug and alcohol use. Pain management options that are non-opioid in nature must be explored and enforced, with support from mental health facilitators and medical practitioners. Prices for opiate prescriptions, as well as alcohol, need to increase, availability needs to greatly decrease, with alcohol sales monitored, and underage drinking laws must be enforced. This epidemic needs to be treated with the seriousness of a plague if we are going to prevent overdose deaths, alcohol-induced deaths, and suicides.As noted in the article, there should be a multigenerational approach to curbing the drug and alcohol epidemic. We must work to reduce the number of ACE factors in families by treating parents with mental health issues, as well as providing familial support, and in-home parenting skill classes. It would be highly beneficial to create a network of experts that is available nationwide, with reformed payment models and an improved system of services. Lastly, but possibly most importantly, children need to have a support system within their schools and communities that they are comfortable accessing from an early age. Without a concentrated effort across all platforms, the trajectory of death will continue.
If you or someone you love is struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, contact our team of professional, compassionate Prescott drug and alcohol treatment specialists at Decision Point Center to discuss treatment options at (844) 292-5010.