According to a new report presented by the United States Surgeon General, 1 in 7 Americans will battle some sort of drug or alcohol addiction at some point in their lifetime. The report also stated that out of those currently addicted, only 10-percent of them receive treatment. This is the first time the U.S. Surgeon General conducted a report exclusively regarding drug and alcohol addiction.
Reginald Allen, an addiction counselor of over 16 years, stated that there are a variety of reasons that people start heavily using drugs or alcohol, but found only one reason why those who find themselves addicted avoid treatment.
“Denial and substance dependence go hand in hand,” said the now founder and CEO of Quad Cities Intervention Services.
Prior to the denial, comes the addiction, which could stem from a variety of reasons.
“Some people are looking for change,” he said. “Peer pressure, curiosity, especially in young people.”
He believes these stressors are how the country has gotten to its one in seven statistic, mentioning that it isn’t shocking that so few who are addicted seek treatment.
“Whether it’s alcohol or cocaine, meth, heroin, those things that have that influence, we don’t want anybody to know,” he said.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy believes that people hide from treatment because of the stigma surrounding addiction counseling; they feel ashamed to admit they have a problem. That’s precisely why he is calling for a change.
“If we afford the same compassion and care to people living with addiction that we do to people living with any other chronic illness, then I believe we will be able to address the addiction crisis in America,” Murthy said.
Allen was in agreement.
“You have to have this thing I call empathy,” he stressed.
Allen also stated that although empathy is key when dealing with loved ones who are battling addiction, he believes that there should be some tough love involved.
“You have to show him love by not giving into his use,” Allen said.
Allen acknowledged that although it may be difficult to do, showing tough love can assist the person addicted until he or she decides to accept their addiction on their own.
“It’s tough on them and it’s tough on you,” he said. “But if I standby and do nothing or keep cosigning this type of behavior, nothing’s going to change.”
Both agree that no two addicts are alike and that there are different levels of addiction. While some might have issues admitting their problem and coming forward, there are others out there who simply cannot afford professional addiction counseling. For this issue, they suggest starting in a local addiction meeting through places like community centers and churches.