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Substance Abuse: Is it really a choice?


Does anyone get up in the morning and decide that today is the day they will become addicted to drugs? Not likely. An individual may have a choice of trying a drug that first time, but what happens next may not be their choice at all. Everyone will not become addicted. But there is no way to test for predisposition to drug abuse so there is great risk.

As many times as the discussion of substance abuse comes up, it still is hard for some people to understand why it happens. Worse, some people believe it would be better to let the abusers die because they made the choice to use drugs. It is not that simple.

By the Numbers 3 is about “developing a common understanding for the future of behavioral health care” and explains how addiction works. This report, released July 27, 2015, explains that “human instinct includes repeating behaviors that are linked to pleasure.” Normally these pleasures are derived from eating, sex, sleeping or socializing. But those pleasures are pushed aside when abused substances can bring pleasure more quickly, a pleasure that may last longer.

Everything has a polar opposite. With pleasure comes pain, the rollercoaster ride addiction, withdrawal and recovery that becomes a person’s life, and the effects of addiction not only on the person, but their circle of family and friends, their community, the workplace.

Ohio’s population at the time of this report was 11,630,000. Here are a few statistics from 2011-2012:

  • 238,000 Ohioans abused or were dependent on an illicit drug. Only 10 percent received treatment leaving 216,000 adult Ohioans untreated.
  • 629,000 Ohioans abused or were dependent on alcohol. Only 5 percent were treated meaning 595,000 adult Ohioans went untreated.
  • 160,000 Ohioans received treatment for addiction through publicly funded treatment. Given the many changes since the report was released last year, the statistics might not be accurately reflected for today.

For a while insurance equity for substance abuse treatment coverage like other chronic diseases has been an issue. There are two main arguments against addiction as a disease: 1.) Drug use is a choice. 2.) Addiction does not fit within the Disease Model of Illness.

The first time an illicit drug is used is a choice, but “the initial choice turns into addiction.” Abuse of those toxic substances changes the brain. With our cutting edge technology, doctors now can see the defect in the limbic system and make a clear diagnosis, just as with any other chronic health condition.

It is estimated that 450,000 illicit drug users in Ohio are employed. Regarding children, nationally about 11.9 percent of children under age 18 live with at least one parent with a substance abuse disorder. These same households are related to 60 percent to 80 percent of documented child abuse and neglect cases.

The report, composed by The Center for Community Solutions and the Mental Health and Addiction Advocacy Coalition, states, “Opiate cases are especially difficult and are a growing problem. In Ohio’s child welfare system, the added cost of placing children into foster care due to a parent’s heroin or opiate use is at least $45 million annually. The average time in foster care is about 180 days.

Following are a couple of good resources to help you to educate yourself and your family about substance abuse:

Family Recovery Center has gotten many calls daily about the recent local overdoses, deaths due to the use of drugs, and parents and grandparents asking, “What can I do to help?” FRC invites the community to its scheduled Family Night, 6 p.m., Oct. 12 at the main office, 964 N. Market St., Lisbon. The discussions will be about FRC findings from the local area and what you might be able to do if you should have a loved one who is involved in drug use or abuse. Call 330-424-1468 to make a reservation. Light refreshments will be available.

Additionally, safely get rid of unwanted and unused prescription capsule or tablet mediations that, in the wrong hands, can be abused. The next National Take Back Drug Program will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 22. You can drop off the medications either East Liverpool City Hospital’s main entrance or at the Salem Medical Building across the street from Salem Regional Medical Center. No liquids, aerosols or creams will be accepted.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues. For more information contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail,

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