In the United States alone, an estimated 23.5 million people aged 12 or older need substance abuse treatment. Only a little over 11% who need treatment get it.
That’s unfortunate for the millions of people dealing with substance abuse, both directly or indirectly through the collective impact on families, workplaces and the economy— a staggering $740 billion each year in costs related to crime, lost work productivity, and healthcare. The emotional toll of substance abuse is unquantifiable, but certainly equally enormous.
But substance abuse disorders are both preventable and treatable.
Here’s what you need to know about the treatment of substance abuse.
“Substance use disorder” or “substance abuse” are just different names for addiction. In the medical profession, “substance use disorder” is the term used, since addiction can be to things that are not “substances” (like gambling, for example).
Regardless of the substance (or substances) involved in the abuse, it’s important to understand what addiction means:
The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a “primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and relief by substance use and other behaviors.”
You can see from that definition that a person with an addiction problem pathologically seeks reward and relief by the use of a substance. (“Pathology” means having to do with disease.) The person with an addiction has rewired circuitry that leads to pursuing reward and relief through the use of substances—even though they know those substances are harmful and even though they see that it is damaging to their relationships.
Now whether or not the individual started using substances and that caused the rewiring of circuitry or whether or not the individual had a potential problem with circuitry that merely got triggered when using substances. Well, that’s a “chicken and egg” scenario— It doesn’t actually matter which came first to treat the substance abuse problem.
While there are many different types of substance abuse treatment facilities and approaches to addiction management, by understanding the definition of addiction you can see the keys to an effective treatment program.
An effective program will address each of the dysfunctions of addiction:
Substance abuse disorders have an overall recovery success rate comparable to other chronic diseases, like hypertension or Type II diabetes. Think about how someone with Type II diabetes might have to change behavioral patterns, social interactions, and other factors to manage the disease long-term, and you will see the similarity to the treatment of substance use disorders.
Programs, then, which address all of the components of addiction stand the best chance of helping an individual successfully beat addiction.
If you or a loved one need substance abuse treatment, contact us. We will help you break the cycle of addiction.