Substance abuse is a major problem in the United States. A study shows more than 20 million people suffer from substance abuse, ages 12 and over. And the problem is only getting worse; the number of people dying from drug overdoses has quadrupled since the 90s.
Substance abuse is a complex issue with many causes, but there are things that you can do to help those suffering from addiction. This blog will explore the dangers of substance abuse and how healthcare workers and patients can approach it.
The Dangers of Substance Abuse
Substance abuse can lead to a variety of health problems, both mental and physical. People who suffer from addiction often have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships, keeping a job, and taking care of their finances. Additionally, substance abuse can lead to overdoses, car accidents, and other accidents. In the United States, 44 percent of drivers in fatal car crashes tested positive for drugs.
Those who suffer from addiction also have tendencies to be sex offenders, commit violent crimes, experience homelessness, and have poorer mental health overall. However, not all is lost. With the right help, people who suffer from addiction can recover and lead healthier lives.
How Healthcare Workers Can Help
Healthcare workers are on the front lines of the fight against substance abuse. There are a few things that they can do to help those suffering from addiction:
Listen without judgment: Healthcare workers must provide a non-judgemental space for patients to open up about their struggles with addiction. By doing so, healthcare workers can better understand each patient’s needs. Additionally, patients will be more likely to seek help if they feel their healthcare provider won’t judge them.
Offer resources: Many resources are available for those suffering from addiction, including 12-step programs, therapy, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Healthcare providers should familiarize themselves with these resources to offer them to their patients.
Advocate for policy change: Healthcare providers can play an important role in changing policies around substance abuse treatment. For example, many states have implemented a “Good Samaritan” law that protects bystanders who call 911 to report an overdose from being prosecuted for drug possession charges. Healthcare providers can also advocate for policies that would make MAT more accessible to patients struggling with addiction.
Educate yourself and your patients: Addiction is a complex disease with many causes; there is no one “right” way to treat it. Healthcare providers should educate themselves on evidence-based addiction treatments to provide their patients with the best care. Additionally, patients should be educated on the risks associated with substance abuse to make informed decisions about their treatment options.
Rehabilitation and Treatment Services
Rehabilitation and treatment services are invaluable for those suffering from addiction. Rehabilitation centers provide a safe, supportive environment for patients to work on their recovery. Treatment services can also help individuals manage their cravings and address the root causes of their addiction.
For example, sex offenders can have a treatment service such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This will help them understand the triggers for their behavior and how to prevent it in the future. CBT will also help them to recognize how their behavior can lead to dangerous situations and provide coping strategies for managing cravings
Similarly, a person struggling with opioid addiction can be prescribed medication-assisted treatment to help them manage their cravings and detox safely. For instance, medications such as methadone and buprenorphine can reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, allowing patients to focus on their recovery.
In addition to treatment services, many rehabilitation centers offer supportive services such as therapy, peer support groups, and holistic healing practices. These services are essential for helping individuals in recovery build a strong foundation for long-term sobriety.
How Patients Can Help Themselves
The hardest part of treatment is admitting that one has an addiction, whether it’s to alcohol or drugs. Many people are in denial and refuse to believe they need help. The first step is for the individual to recognize the problem and seek help. If you feel unsafe at home or within your community, it might be a good idea to find a safe place where you can seek help.
Finding a mental health professional who can assess your needs and provide guidance on moving forward is also important. A therapist or addiction specialist can listen, offer support, and help create a customized treatment plan tailored specifically for the patient. This type of care is essential for successful long-term recovery.
Besides therapy, you can also find support from local support groups or online communities for those dealing with addiction. These communities provide a safe space to share experiences and connect with others struggling with the same problems.
Finally, lifestyle changes can be an important part of a successful recovery journey. Exercise, healthy eating, and sleep are essential for maintaining physical and mental well-being. Additionally, you should limit your exposure to triggers, such as alcohol or drugs, in social situations or activities that could lead to addictive behavior.
Substance abuse is a major problem in the United States that often goes untreated due to stigma and lack of access to resources. Healthcare providers play an important role in helping those suffering from addiction by offering non-judgemental support and access to evidence-based treatments. By way of education on addiction and its risks, healthcare providers can help save lives.