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Surgeon General: First report on addiction


This year in Columbiana County, the problem of addiction and related problems like overdosing and death have been publicly viewed on social media and in the news. In mid-November, the U.S. Surgeon General released the first ever report on addiction, which clearly makes everyone aware that the problem is widespread across the nation, not just in our local communities.

            Last year (2015), more than 27 million people reported that they were using illicit drugs or misusing prescription pain medications. Approximately one-quarter of our nation’s adult and adolescent population had problems with binge drinking. These problems affect not only the person with the addiction, but also their families, friends, neighbors, coworkers and throughout their communities. Children are neglected and abused, crime and violence related to alcohol and addictions instill fear and retaliation, and the costs of health care for those who receive treatment are high.

            “It is estimated that the yearly economic impact of substance misuse is $249 billion for alcohol misuse and $193 billion for illicit drug use,” says the Surgeon General.

            When you don’t understand the dynamics of addiction, you may judge the addicted person harshly, but they are involved with a most difficult battle of their lives, for their lives. Initially they may have made the choices to try it, but it’s like playing Russian Roulette: you just don’t know what your outcome is going to be. Online you can visit to learn more about how addiction works.

            Everyone knows someone with an addiction problem, or has lost someone they have cared about to substance abuse. What is the difference between someone you don’t know who overdoses, and your best friend who overdoses? Sadly, “Only about 10 percent of people with a substance use disorder receive any type of specialty treatment. Further, over 40 percent of people with a substance use disorder also have a mental health condition, yet fewer than half receive treatment for either disorder.

            This works out to the facts that people who want recovery are turned away because they cannot access affordable care, are afraid they will be judged harshly, shamed and discriminated against. There also is a lack of screening for substance misuse in general health care settings. There also is the fact that, of the people with addiction problems, there are many who are not ready to give up their addictions or they don’t even think they have a problem, even if their loved ones see that they do.

            The Surgeon General explains that, “Addiction to alcohol or drugs is a chronic but treatable brain disease that requires medical intervention, not moral judgment.”

            Effective treatments are available, can save lives and help people attain recovery. They can get back on their feet, become productive again, IF they can access the available programs.

            Family Recovery Center has worked diligently to promote accessibility, said Jennifer Thorn, FRC administrative assistant. “Medicaid expansion in Ohio has made thousands more eligible for Medicaid coverage that may not have been eligible before. And for those without Medicaid or insurance coverage, we have county board funding available for treatment through the Mental Health and Recovery Services levy. Same day or next day appointments are typically available.”

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