Not What You Expect: The Faces of Today’s Addicts

Post Image

Whether we want to admit it or not, when we think of the words addiction or addict, certain images come immediately to mind. Oftentimes, we think of addicts as being derelict, bums or at the bottom rungs of society. We may also have images of people who either don’t want help or feel they don’t need the help. While some of these associations may have a ring of truth to some degree, the fact is that addiction affects everyone. No matter what the cultural background, sex, family history or socioeconomic status, addiction doesn’t discriminate and it may come as a surprise what demographic groups are affected by drug and alcohol abuse.

Do you need help in overcoming your addiction once and for all? Call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center toll-free today.

Going Beyond Appearances: Looking Deeper

While drug and alcohol addiction is seen as a major issue that can affect anyone at any time, many people still cling to old stereotypes and views. Many who adopt those schools of thought view addiction has a moral and spiritual failing. Those narrow viewpoints only help to continue the stigma that surrounds substance abuse and addiction. While it may be difficult to do, we must be able to change our viewpoint in regards to whom addiction affects, and from that we as a society can find ways to come up with better and more fruitful options to combat this disease. In order to do that, it is important to look at the addiction problem that is currently occurring in the United States, and especially the demographic groups that are significantly impacted by certain types of drugs.

We will first start with the rising epidemic of heroin use in the United States the the populations it is affecting the most.

Heroin Addiction: Who is Affected the Most?

heroin injection

Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic surge in the use of heroin in the United States. According to information provided by the Center of Disease Control (CDC), the rate of heroin overdose has quadrupled between 2002-2013. Once a drug of the urban poor, the current face of heroin abuse are young people. In an article featured last year on NPR, a survey conducted found that 90 percent of heroin users were young men and women under the age of 23.

In a study that was published in JAMA Pscyhiatry, three-quarters of these current users were first introduced to heroin by way of prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin and Percocet. With increased law enforcement crackdown on “pill mills” that manufacture prescription painkillers for the black market and increased prescription tracking measures taken by states, many young people who were abusing prescription painkillers are turning to a cheaper, but just as dangerous alternative: heroin. Studies such as these are showing that demographic users that are impacted the most by heroin abuse are no longer defined along socioeconomic and racial lines.

Prescription Drug Abuse

prescription pill addiction

Along with heroin abuse, the United States is experiencing an epidemic of prescription drug abuse–and especially prescription painkillers. According to information provided by the National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIH):

  • 52 million people over the age of 12 have used prescription mediation for non-medical purposes.
  • The United States consumes 75 percent of all prescription drugs, yet only comprises 5 percent of the total world population.
  • 6.1 million Americans have used prescription medications for non-medical purposes in the past month.

While these statistics may jump off the page, you may be surprised at the population that prescription painkiller abuse is having significant impacts: teenagers. According to data provided in the 2013 Monitoring the Future Survey, which is conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

  • In 2013, youths aged 12 to 17, or young adults aged 18 to 25, were more likely to misuse prescription drugs in the past year than adults aged 26 or older.
  • On an average day during the past year, an average of 2,500 adolescents used prescription pain relievers non-medically for the first time.
  • In 2013, the rate of past year nonmedical pain reliever use among youth aged 12 to 17 was 4.6%. For young adults ages 18 to 25, the rate was 8.8%. That is compared to 2.6% of adult males and 2.3% of adult females in the United States.

There reasons why prescription medication abuse among teens and young adults are higher when compared to other age groups. For many teens, they can get easy access to these medication from their parent’s medicine cabinets or can get prescription pills from friends. Also, abuse rates among these age groups are higher because of the thought that since prescription medications are prescribed by a doctor they are “safer” than illicit drugs.

Alcoholism and the “Hidden Epidemic”

While drugs such as heroin and prescription medications have dominated the headlines in the last few years, the number one drug of choice continues to be alcohol. Alcohol use is prevalent in the United States with 86.8 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime; 70.7 percent reported that they drank in the past year; 56.4 percent reported that they drank in the past month in 2013. An age group that is not commonly identified as being a vulnerable population to the dangers of alcohol abuse and addiction is our elderly population.

It is believed that about 10% of this country’s population abuses alcohol, but surveys revealed that as many as 17% of the over-65 adults have an alcohol-abuse problem. According to information provided by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 4 out of 5 seniors who do enter drug treatment have alcohol abuse issues and 9% of those who receive Medicaid benefits drink more than 30 drinks a month and more than 4 drinks in any one occasion.

One of the main reasons why alcohol abuse and alcoholism among the elderly population is difficult to ascertain is because many of the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse can be confused with the normal signs of aging. Additionally, many who are elderly tend to hide their alcohol or drug use and are widowed or live alone–and that isolation makes it easier to hide problems.

No Matter What Your Addiction Is, Ocean Breeze Recovery Center Can Help You

No matter what your age, family history, socioeconomic or cultural background, addiction affects us all. If you are seeking treatment, you can turn to the experience and proven success of the treatment programs provided by Ocean Breeze Recovery Center. We utilize a wide array of therapy options that are effective and proven to work. Our experienced and compassionate staff is able to tailor a recovery plan that best suits you and your needs. Addiction waits for no one–take the first step towards recovery with help from Ocean Breeze Recovery Center.

Related Reading