An estimated 21 million Americans deal with some substance abuse disorder. And, as of 2016, nearly 2 million of those are struggling specifically with opiate addictions, which can include dependencies on heroin as well as prescription painkillers such as oxycodone (or OxyContin), morphine, hydrocodone, and other related drugs.
These statistics reflect a troubling trend that has been in the making for years. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), the number of opioid prescriptions written in the last three decades has risen dramatically – from nearly 76 million in 1991 to nearly 207 million in 2013. Although most of these were likely legitimate prescriptions, the NIH says they have contributed to the abundance of opiates in the U.S., which in turn has created “environmental availability,” which the agency blames for today’s high rates of OxyContin abuse and related drug use
For many, these numbers hit close to home, as more and more individuals in the United States struggle with opioid addiction and can’t find help. In fact, less than half of the 2.2 million Americans that are addicted to opioids receive any professional treatment at all. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), on average there
- 650,000 opioid prescriptions written each day
- 3,900 individuals begin using prescription opioids daily for non-medical reasons
- 580 people abusing heroin for the first time
- 78 people die each day because of an opioid-related overdose
Prescription Drug Abuse Among Teenagers
As alarming as these figures are, trends among U.S. teens Indicate that opiate addictions in the U.S. show no signs of decreasing anytime soon.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that annually 2.3 million adolescents (aged 12 – 17) – or 9.4 percent of U.S. teens – regularly use illicit drugs. Approximately – and 168,000 of those become addicts. The NIH found most adolescents who abuse prescription drugs are gaining access to the drugs from friends and family. Nearly 80 percent of people who use heroin report having first misused prescription opioids. SAMHSA also determined about 16,000 adolescents have experimented with heroin.
In addition to the emotional burden on families and communities, substance abuse comes at a great financial cost for our nation. In fact, we spend more than $700 billion each year due to crime, lost work productivity and health care related with abuse of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs.
Addressing Opiate Addiction:
In 2016, the Obama administration proposed a drug plan that would emphasize “prevention over incarceration” based on the belief that preventing drug use before it occurs is most cost-effective to combat drug use and its outcomes.
Research by SAMHSA supports this, showing each dollar invested in school-based prevention programs has the potential to save up to $18 in later costs associated with substance abuse disorders.
In other words, education and treatment are seen as two of the most effective tools available to combat opiate addictions in the U.S. Additionally, expanding access to treatment and recovery services and increasing funding to support those services would further curtail the nation’s opiate epidemic.
Additional Tools to Combat Opiate Addiction
Public awareness and involvement are also forms of education – and effective tools to help fight drug abuse.
SAMHSA supports several initiatives to help communities increase awareness at the grassroots level, including working with and educating local physicians, teachers and parents. The agency offers resources and materials to civic organizations committed to fighting drug abuse in their communities.
Hosting local gatherings such as roundtable discussions and meetings can help educate community members, inspiring them to form coalitions comprising residents, health professionals, law enforcement personnel, parents, and recovering substance abusers. These diverse community groups bring together a variety of perspectives, facilitating open discussions regarding local opiate trends. These same perspectives can be used in building neighborhood support groups and offering outpatient programs and counseling for both young people and adults.
How Bad is Drug Addiction in the U.S?
The NIH reports the number of drug overdoses has doubled in the last year, making this a leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with prescription painkiller addictions blamed for 19,000 overdose fatalities and another 10,574 overdose deaths attributed to heroin.
In the face of these trends, the need for skilled mental health counselors is growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 20 percent increase in the field over the next decade.
If you would like to play a role in helping to mitigate the growing problems of opiate addictions and drug abuse among teenagers, Antioch University can help.
By earning a Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from Antioch University, it can better position you to help others and excel in a field that offers strong growth potential. Drug abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are in demand. They play a significant role in working with individuals who suffer from drug addictions, have mental health disorders, difficult emotions, and trauma. In other words, this is a career path that offers both professional and personal rewards.
Want to know more? Request information or call (855) 792-1049 to speak with an Admissions Advisor today!