The 2018 Annual Surveillance Report of Drug-Related Risks and Outcomes by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paints a grim picture of the continuing drug overdose crisis sweeping the United States.
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In March 2018, The New York Times published a long-form article about what reporter Paula Span called “a quiet drug problem among the elderly”: the widespread misuse of benzodiazepines among older Americans. “For years, geriatricians and researchers have sounded the alarm about the use of benzodiazepines among older adults. Often called “benzos,” the problem drugs include Valium (diazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Xanax (alprazolam) and Ativan (lorazepam).”
Many a parent or spouse have faced this dilemma. They realized that a family member has become addicted to drugs or alcohol, causing serious health problems for themselves, generating a tornado of stress and anxiety that is disrupting the entire family dynamic.
Fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, siblings want their loved one to stop misusing substances but they don’t know what to do. Simply demanding they stop or reprimanding them rarely works. Often, a more structured approach is required. You may need a formal intervention.
There has been a lot of media coverage of the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States—with good reason. Opioids are the main reason drug overdose deaths keep reaching new record levels year after year. Yet, alcohol remains the most commonly used addictive substance in the US, causing even more fatalities. And there are no indications that this is about to change.
For most people the holiday season is a time for joy and celebration, but it can be stressful. And stress is a key risk factor in substance use disorders. While stress during the holidays can happen to anyone, for people with addiction issues such as financial problems, family conflict and general stress are easily amplified, and intense stress frequently triggers substance use in addicts or relapse in people in recovery.
Smoking tobacco is prevalent among people with substance use disorder (SUD). Individuals seeking SUD treatment are much more likely to use tobacco than the general population.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that “current smoking has declined from nearly 21 of every 100 adults (20.9 percent) in 2005 to about 15 of every 100 adults (15.5 percent) in 2016.”
Branden Connelley always thought he had a fairly normal childhood, but unknown to him risk factors for a substance use disorder were in place. He remembers his father drinking too much, and his parents getting a divorce when Branden was in high school. As a teenager, he struggled emotionally, and often felt out of place.
Substance misuse does not always result in addiction requiring residential treatment. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)—the principal authority for psychiatric diagnoses—no longer uses terms like alcohol abuse or chemical dependence. Instead, the DSM-5 refers to substance use disorders (SUD), which are defined as mild, moderate, or severe to indicate the level of severity.