A Strong Warning from the Surgeon General's Office on Drug Addiction

According to a 2016 report from the Surgeon General's office, tens of millions of Americans struggle with substance abuse. Approximately one in seven people in the U.S. is expected to struggle with addiction at some point. Yet even though addiction is a widespread problem, effective treatment is only made available to one in ten addicts. Addiction is one of America's most common crises, yet it is one of the most under-treated health issues in our country.

Photo by deberarr/iStockphoto.com

With 48 million Americans abusing drugs, 67 million abusing alcohol, and 28 million driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, the entire population is at risk, not just those who actively misuse substances.

What should be done to reverse the growing crisis of addiction in America?

Addiction Affects far More than Just Those Addicted

While it is known that drug and alcohol use is harmful, there are more intricate problems connected to the nationwide spread of substance abuse. For example, when people think of addiction, they almost always think of the harm and danger that drug use has on the individual who is using drugs. But what about the family members and loved ones of addicts? What about coworkers, friends, innocent passersby? Any time someone uses drugs or alcohol they put themselves at risk. But they also put everyone around them at risk.

Substance abuse is now a problem that affects tens of millions of Americans. It is so prevalent and so dangerous that drug and alcohol use is now the leading cause of death for individuals aged 15 to 24. As for the far-reaching consequences of substance abuse, thousands die in drunk driving accidents every year. Thousands of babies are born to addicted mothers each year, and millions of children live in homes with at least one addicted parent. Substance abuse is a dangerous and costly burden to businesses and workplaces. Longtime interpersonal relationships are destroyed by addiction.

A Rapidly Growing, Evolving Crisis

One of the most concerning factors regarding addiction is the sheer magnitude of the problem. According to a second Surgeon General Report, as many as 27 million Americans abuse drugs. Furthermore, another 66 million admit to drinking to excess. It's worth mentioning that these problems do not just affect those who are addicted. The real toll of addiction spreads to the family members and loved ones of addicts and to society as a whole. For example, just a rough estimate of the yearly economic impact is $249 billion for alcohol misuse and $193 billion for drug use.

Even though addiction is a severe crisis, there is a considerable treatment gap. Millions are addicted to substances, but very few addicts will ever receive qualified drug and alcohol treatment. Only about ten percent of people with a substance abuse disorder ever receive any addiction treatment. Why the gap? Factors include:

  • Inability to access care
  • Unaffordable care
  • Fear of shame and discrimination
  • Fear of job loss
  • Stereotype and stigma
  • Criminalization of addiction
  • Lack of screening for substance abuse disorders
  • Lack of a sense of need for addiction treatment

As the addiction crisis worsens, and as more people become addicted and more people die from drugs and alcohol, the need for treatment could not be more evident. Now more than ever, we all have to come together and work to ensure that those who need treatment do get it.

Addiction is an Emergency – Addiction Treatment is the Emergency Response

The need for addiction treatment could not be more apparent. Drug and alcohol addiction is a rising epidemic, a severe problem that worsens each year. The simple truth is that more people become addicted to drugs and alcohol each year than those who get off drugs. Until that changes, more Americans will become addicted to substances. Our society, our families, and our loved ones will all suffer as a result.

By now, most Americans know someone who is addicted to drugs and alcohol. If you fall into this group, if you know someone who is hooked on drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two, it's up to you to do everything you can to help your loved one overcome their crisis. Please do not let them destroy their life; not when there is such a clear solution.

When a loved one struggles with an addiction to drugs and alcohol, the family members and loved ones of the addict need to act fast to get them help. Drug and alcohol addiction is a fatal condition if left untreated.

When an addict is in the midst of substance abuse, the possibility that they might be able to live a sober, drug-free life can seem like an unrealistic goal. But a drug-free life is the goal, the ideal future, and the mission of Narconon.

Narconon helps addicts overcome their drug addiction and the underlying crises and struggles that led the person to use substances in the first place. No one becomes an addict by chance. There is almost always an underlying reason why the individual began using drugs in the first place. The reason why they began using is almost always a problem that they could not figure out how to address, so they started using substances as a coping mechanism.

Narconon helps people overcome all of the aspects and facets of addiction. Narconon's mission is to provide an effective path for rehabilitation from drug abuse and to assist society in preventing the scourge of drugs worldwide. If you know someone who needs help overcoming addiction, please contact Narconon today.


Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



Having personal experience with close family passing due to hidden alcohol abuse. I now work with pride at Narconon to do something effective about the addiction epidemic.