October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. There’s never been a more important time to talk about the impact of addiction on individuals, families and communities. The number of overdose deaths has skyrocketed in recent years, and countless more deaths and serious illnesses are attributed to drug and alcohol use.
It’s an issue that affects all of us, either directly or indirectly. The best way of avoiding the consequences of substance misuse is prevention. National Substance Abuse Prevention Month is a chance to talk about the importance of preventing addiction before it begins. It’s also an opportunity to consider what we might do to help those currently suffering from substance use disorders.
How Substance Misuse Affects Individuals
On an individual level, substance use affects a person in several short- and long-term ways. Effects vary depending on the type of substance a person is misusing. Short-term consequences can include high or low blood pressure, high or low heart rates, heart attack, stroke, psychosis and potentially death.
After prolonged substance misuse, a person might experience several negative physical and emotional outcomes. Substance use disorder can lead to heart disease, cancer, mental illness and lung disease. Eventually, many people that misuse substances become addicted, which means that their brain processes have changed, making it difficult to quit using a substance without some form of treatment.
Substance misuse also has countless indirect consequences on an individual. A person suffering from an addiction might experience career setbacks, relationship difficulties and legal problems. All these outcomes not only affect the person misusing substances, they also have ripple effects that impact others.
The Impact of Substance Use Disorders on All of Us
Around 70,000 people died from overdoses in 2017. For each of those deaths, families, friends and communities pay the price. Even when addiction isn’t fatal, its consequences are profound. Families are broken. Life expectancy is shortened. Our health care systems are strained. Workplaces are less productive. Violence and abuse become more common.
Alcohol, drug and tobacco misuse cost the U.S. around $740 billion annually. Those costs come in the form of crime, lost productivity and health care. These consequences are severe, and they impact every single one of us. Addiction is a preventable disease, which is why National Substance Abuse Prevention Month is so valuable.
Everyone Can Play a Role in Preventing Substance Misuse
Parents, teachers, faith leaders, coaches and friends can all make a difference in the lives of others. People can help prevent addiction by maintaining healthy relationships, engaging in meaningful pursuits and keeping open communication with loved ones. Talking about the risks of substance misuse, especially with young people, can reduce the risks of engaging in behaviors that lead to addiction.
Our efforts to prevent substance misuse work. Youth substance use has declined in recent years. However, the number of opioid overdoses, the rise of vaping in the U.S. and an increase in the number Americans who are drinking at dangerous levels suggests that we must step up our attempts to raise awareness of substance misuse and its dangers.
If you know someone that is struggling with an addiction and they want help, you can be an ally. If they don’t fully understand how serious their problem has become, you might consider staging an intervention with the aid of a professional interventionist.
Observing National Substance Abuse Prevention Month
This month is a great time to start the conversation about substance misuse prevention. Talk to your loved ones about the consequences of drug and alcohol use. Be open to friends or family members who express concern about themselves or others in their lives. Communication and meaningful connections are central in our efforts to prevent and end addiction. If you’ve been considering starting a conversation about substance misuse with someone you care about, now is your opportunity.
If You or a Loved One Needs Help, Contact BRC Recovery
At BRC Recovery, we believe that no one is beyond help. We focus on those who consider themselves to be treatment resistant. Our facility takes a holistic approach to foster recovery. That includes clinical services, health and self-care, life skills training and fitness. We know how devastating addiction can be, but we also know that everyone is capable of regaining control over their lives.