Even as Overdose Fatalities Increase, Concerns Over Addiction Fall
Drug addiction continues to be one of the most crushing parts of life in many cities. But in some areas, it’s almost hidden, hard to pinpoint, and easy to overlook. That may be one reason for the results of a Pew Research Center study that found that fewer Americans see addiction as a “major problem” within their community. Does this mean addiction rates are declining? Sadly, the opposite is true. Drug overdose rates in the country are on a sharp rise upward.
Consider the Rates of Overdose in the U.S.
The study indicates that, in 2020, 92,000 Americans died from overdosing. That is significantly higher than the 70,000 people who died in 2017. Those overdose rates increased across the country including in rural, urban, and suburban communities.
In the hardest hit areas, just 38% of residents said drug addiction was a major problem in their community. That is down from 44% in 2017.
Why Is This Happening?
It’s not clear why fewer people seem to be focused on addiction as a major concern. However, the survey speculates that it could be because people are just focused on other things. That includes COVID-19, the national economy, and high healthcare costs. The high number of COVID-19 deaths has overshadowed the number of people dying from addiction.
Is Your Loved One at Risk of an Overdose?
With so many things within our community and country to worry about, it can be easy to overlook those struggling with a substance use disorder. Often, family members must be the ones to help their loved one get into treatment. That means recognizing the symptoms of substance use disorder. Some of those symptoms include:
- Changes in behavior, such as no longer engaging in activities a person enjoyed doing before
- Changes in relationships, including pulling away from others and preferring privacy
- Inability to maintain responsibilities at home, work, or school
- Irritability and mood swings, which could indicate withdrawal symptoms
- Increasing use of substances as well as increasing amounts of substances used
- Overdoses and relapses when they try to stop using
- Substances seem like the most important thing in the person’s life
If you see the signs of addiction in a loved one, ask them about it. Talk about the signs you’re seeing and what they could mean. Then, encourage your loved one to get help. A drug and alcohol treatment center can provide the resources and tools to enable your loved one to step into treatment and change their future.
How Can You Help Within the Community?
Sometimes people want to do more to help those with substance abuse and are unsure how to do so. Start by talking to your local drug and alcohol treatment center. Get an idea of what opportunities exist for you. That may include volunteering within the treatment center. If you are in addiction recovery, you may be able to share your story so that others will benefit from it.
In addition to this, turn to local alcohol and drug recovery meetings and centers. Find out what type of support you may be able to provide there. Advocate for people who need help and may not have access to treatment due to mental health disorders, health care costs, or fear of reaching out.
Addiction is a community problem across all income levels and demographics. You can be a part of the change simply by talking about drug and alcohol addiction with friends and family. Our counselors at Victory Addiction Recovery Center in Lafayette, LA, can discuss with you the ways you can participate in educating your community and helping those in need.
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