Alcoholism and drug addiction remain prevalent in the United States of America. Contrary to what most adverts and reports may convey, America remains the most affected when it comes to drug use and addiction.
According to a report released in 2016 by the National Study on Drug Use and Health, at least 28.6 million used drugs a month before the study. In their report, they state that the 28.6 million includes American individuals ages 12 and over. From their findings, most of them were addicted to drugs such as marijuana, alcohol and prescription drugs. Such drugs are often easily accessible and cheap.
In fact, a good number of people that developed a drug addiction problem started out with prescription drugs. According to talbottcampus.com, at least 54 million American individuals have used prescription drugs for non- medical purposes. It is very easy to develop an addiction problem by simply using prescription drugs for the wrong reasons.
Moreover, engaging in such an act at an early age can only increase the likelihood of developing an addiction. Why so? Drugs can be defined as chemical substances that have the ability to change how the body functions. This can be either psychologically and/or physically.
Drugs often target the brain, where they influence various chemical neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Moreover, if drugs are used over a long period of time, parts of the brain can be permanently altered. This is especially true for younger drug users.
Let us take a look at this in further detail.
The Teenage Brain and Addiction
Why do young drug users at risk of developing an addiction problem? Well, it is all connected to the proper development of the brain. Needless to say, that during the adolescent stage, there are parts of the brain that are still developing.
More specifically, the parts of the brain that are still developing during this stage are responsible for vital functions. These parts are responsible for decision making and self- control.
The drugs interfere with the proper development of these parts, hence the impulsive nature of most teenage drug users. They are less likely to consider the consequences of their actions.
As previously stated, at least 54 million individuals in American have taken prescription drugs for non- medical purposes. The alarming part about this statistic is that it includes children at the of 12 and over.
This means, that a considerable amount o the American population are at the risk of developing an addiction to a drug, be it prescription or otherwise. In fact, according to www.promises.com, approximately 77% of drug users turn into addicts.
The Prevalence of Drug Abuse and Addiction
Drug abuse and addiction have impacted the public health sector, the economic sector and the American society as a whole. It is slowly degrading societal values while simultaneously increasing mortality rates at an alarming rate. According to a study done in 2015, America reported an annual economic impact of $442 billion from drug and alcohol abuse.
The report continues to state that America recorded an estimate of 52,404 deaths in the year 2015. The numbers are expected to continue increasing over time. A report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) bears testament to this fact. According to them, 2016 accounted for 64,070 drug- overdose-related deaths within the American continent.
There are numerous reasons and causes of deaths from drug abuse and drug addiction. They include:
- Unintentional drug overdose
- Undetermined drug poisoning
When it comes to an overdose, this is likely to happen to drug addicts. When a person starts using a drug, whether prescribed or otherwise, for the wrong reasons, that is considered voluntary.
Once the drug enters the brain, it stimulates the overproduction of the dopamine hormone. This hormone is known to control moods and pleasure. Hence, the overproduction of the dopamine is bound to heighten the pleasure or feeling of enjoyment. This is why most users find it hard to stop as they continually seek that feeling of euphoria over and over again.
However, after long-term use of the drug, the effect of the drug is likely to wear off. In an effort to increase the strength of the drug, the user is likely to use more of it. This can lead to an overdose of the drug, and an untimely death.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of synthetic opioids accounted for the largest percentage of drug overdose deaths in the year 2016.
According to them, Heroin comes second, accounting for 15,446 deaths in the year 2016 alone. Cocaine overdoses accounted for 10,619 deaths, while consumption of methamphetamine and MDMA accounted for 7,663 deaths. Please note that the above-mentioned statistics are related to the year 2016.
It is also important to note that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), does not record every single death caused by drug use, be it an overdose, suicide or homicide. Instead, they focus on the drugs that lead to the highest number of deaths annually. Meaning, that of the 64,070 recorded number of deaths recorded in the year 2016, there could more people that died from drug abuse annually.
This is a shocking revelation, considering the statistics. It goes without saying that drug use, abuse and addiction is crippling the economy of America. From significantly reducing the labor force and increasing the number of annual cost in drug misuse.
Moreover, the families and loved ones affected are numerous. Of course, some states in America have reacted by building rehabilitation centers and treatment centers for the affected individuals.