In our world today, people with substance use disorder (SUD) are thought of as being rare. In television, films, and other media, SUD is portrayed as rare. Worse, the media tends to portray SUD as “curable.” The facts of addiction seem to be lost in the white noise.
Sadly, we all know that SUD is often a lifelong condition and that we work every day to live a safe and sober life. SUDs are also not rare. In fact, 1 out of every 7 people will experience SUD in their lifetime.
Let’s put that number in perspective. The average American family consists of four members: two parents and two children. That means one person in every two families will have a family member with SUD. That is not rare, meaning SUDs are common; those are the facts of addiction.
As we work to educate others about our needs as people in recovery, we must clear up some misconceptions about what addiction really is. We can do this by talking to others and starting difficult but ultimately productive conversations.
Defining Substance Abuse
Sometimes the easiest way to clear up misconceptions about substance abuse is to give it a definition. Let us try and define it here. Substance abuse occurs when the use of any substance, including those that are initially obtained legally, causes harm to the user and those around them.
Further, people who have received help for their SUD and are participating in therapy are in treatment. Those who have graduated from treatment programs and sober living programs and are living on their own maintaining sobriety are in recovery. Sobriety is the act of being sober from controlled substances.
Substance misuse is a public health emergency and one that costs lives and dollars every year. Here are three things for your loved ones to remember that are most important: prevention works, treatment works, and recovery is possible.
What Are the Facts of Addiction?
Funding and allocated resources for effective treatment benefit those with SUD and those who are sober. Here are some of the most important things to remember when it comes to why treatment helps us all.
First, treatment saves money. Every dollar spent on preventative interventions for SUD saves $58 on emergency treatment costs. Additionally, every dollar spent on preventative treatment saves $4 in emergency health care costs. Further, every dollar spent on preventative treatment for SUDs saves $7 in judicial costs for potential criminal charges.
Next, there is no real predictor for who will experience SUD or a mental health disorder. Some genes may biologically predispose individuals to these diseases. Environmental and developmental factors may influence someone to misuse substances.
However, these are not necessarily predictors. Two people with the same genes or who grow up in the same environment may have vastly different outcomes. The fact is that it is more important to remember the dignity of people with these conditions, which can so often be forgotten.
Lastly, what we can often forget is that SUD and mental health disorders are real and chronic diseases. Those who have these disorders need compassion and help. Most importantly, the prevention of these disorders can lead to better outcomes.
Now That You Are in Recovery
Recovery, which many of you are in, is a very different stage of your life than we have talked about so far. Unlike treatment, you are no longer living in a highly controlled environment. You have graduated to living your life again, working every day toward your sobriety with the help of your care team.
Again, this is another place where a definition would be great. So, what is recovery? One great definition of recovery is that it is when the positive values and changes you have learned in your treatment phase can be applied to your self-directed life.
Here are a few more definitions to consider. Abstinence is the long-term and sustained cessation of substance use. Additionally, abstinence is one of the most common features in all recovery situations, and it is what we strive for. Remission is when recovery and abstinence result in overcoming the effects of SUD and is the result of regaining health and social functioning.
Knowing the Facts About Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Knowing the facts of addiction prevention, treatment, recovery, and health can save lives. Educating others about these facts can go a long way to changing the misconceptions about these complicated diseases.
When we educate our families about what we are going through, they can feel involved in the solution. Oftentimes when people feel more involved, they get more involved. Doing so helps them show how much they love us still.
Bringing your family to appointments, such as doctors and caregiver appointments, helps to advance their understanding of SUD. This includes efforts to educate them and to raise awareness of the need to advance our scientific understanding of these complex illnesses.
The Facts of Addiction and Help When You Need It
It can be difficult for those who do not have a first-hand experience with addiction to understand how it affects others. However, working to understand can break down barriers, increase compassion, and result in better treatment and recovery outcomes.
Sometimes you must be the bridge to help those you love understand what you are going through. Helping others understand your specific needs can help them, and you, create a safe and sober environment in which to achieve remission.
Even in recovery, it can be hard to explain the facts of addiction to those closest to you. Knowing the facts can help you to reach out to your support network and make sure that each situation and space is safe for you. Involving your family and loved ones in your care can help facilitate their involvement. Now that you are in recovery, you need your loved ones’ support more than ever. You are in a great position to help to spread the facts of substance use treatment and recovery to make a brighter future for those in recovery. Help is there when you need it, and so are your friends at Renaissance Ranch. Call them at (801) 308-8898.