Addiction and substance abuse have been in the headlines quite a bit lately. From Philip Seymour Hoffman to Elizabeth Vargas, Robin Williams, and so many others, there are very real public and private battles with addiction happening every single day.
Afflicting people of all financial situations, ages, races, and religions, addiction does not discriminate.
When I was a kid I knew this one girl, who I will call Beth. She was extremely bright with a big smile and a hearty laugh, though few people got to see it. Most days she was in her room by herself, reading or listening to music. Beth was kind of a loner, though most were not sure whether she preferred it that way or not.
Beth’s father was in a medical profession, and able to write prescriptions for others. Unbeknownst to him, she began stealing his prescription drug pads to write her own prescriptions – for herself. Needless to say, Beth soon became addicted to prescription drugs, which landed her in rehab on more than one occasion. Over the years there was so much emotional damage done between Beth and her family as a result of her addiction. Though fortunately she was able to get the right help she needed before the addiction took her life, because it sure seemed to be heading in that direction.
About 110 Americans died each day from a drug overdose in 2011, and Beth certainly could have been one of them. Frankly, I kind of assumed that she would be one of them. Though I haven’t seen her in many years now, I am so glad that she is doing well and hope that she has the support she needs to continue on that path.
An estimated 23 million Americans like Beth need treatment for problems related to drug and alcohol abuse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. No matter what circumstances led them to drugs and alcohol, getting the right help is vital to recovery.
While there are many substance abuse treatment options, millions of Americans struggle to get and stay clean. A recent survey by Wakefield Research for Adelphi University’s Center for Health Innovation made note of which programs mental health professionals believe are the most effective. Improving outcomes is going to be so incredibly important for getting people well enough to enter recovery, and stay there. One hundred mental health professionals, including psychologists, psychiatrists, LICSWs, LISWs and CSW-Cs weighed in with their thoughts:
The first step is determining the primary goal for treatment. 63% of mental health professionals think a person who has been treated for substance dependence can’t ever use that substance again responsibly. (Quite honestly, that numbers was surprisingly low to me.) Therefore, 61% of mental health professionals say abstinence is their goal for the majority of their substance dependent patients. Meanwhile, for 39% of respondents, harm reduction is their primary goal in treatment.
Finances and insurance can make a big difference in recovery. 90% of mental health professionals think insurance providers inadequately cover substance addiction treatment. Sadly, 73% feel that socio-economic status prevents patients from accessing treatment.
The right treatment program is vital to success. Only 28% of mental health professionals think traditional outpatient programs are mostly effective for a majority of their patients. Two thirds of mental health professionals (67%) prefer recommending new approaches for managing drug and alcohol addiction, rather than traditional interventions such as a 12-step program. 93% of mental health professionals are open to different approaches to substance dependency treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, self-management tools, and contingency management reinforcement. Building a viable treatment strategy may mean a variety of approaches.
New technology has brought new ideas of treatment. A whopping 92% of mental health professionals think high tech drug and alcohol addiction treatment will be standard in the next 10 years. This includes mobile apps, wearable devices, and counseling via video chat.
So, with that said, here is my question to you. If you had a friend or loved one with an addiction, how would you handle it? What would you do to help?
In 2014, drug overdoses are expected to surpass traffic accidents as the leading cause of accidental death, according to the American College of Physicians. While I don’t claim to know much of anything about what it feels like to become addicted, I do know that we can help to save lives by trying to get friends and family members to get the treatment they need to get and stay sober. Learn more about Adelphi’s work in the mental health field and the latest poll results on addiction at http://chi.adelphi.edu/. This September is the 25th Anniversary of Recovery Month. For more information, please go to http://www.recoverymonth.gov/.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Adelphi University. The opinions and text are all mine.