Between constant talk of the opioid epidemic and the societal “war on drugs,” the subject of substance abuse is constantly on the minds of the public at large.
However, the reality of just how much drug abuse is taking its toll on the population is staggering based on some recent numbers.
Fatal drug addictions are rising among urban and rural communities according to new data from the Pew Research Center. Meanwhile, concern over substance abuse is at an all-time high among allwalks of life. Pew’s latest study notes that 90% of rural Americans cite drug abuse as a major or minor problem in their communities, with 87% in urban areas saying the same.
Meanwhile, the most recent numbers on fatal overdoses show that total deaths in 2016 (~63,000) people are nearly doublethat of a decade ago. The majority of those deaths involved some form of an opioid, by the way.
The Three “Whys” of Addiction
These numbers raise the ever-growing question ofwhydrug abuse is so rampant.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of addiction is why it happens in the first place.
The fact remains that addiction is indeed chemical following initial use of a substance (think: heroin). To quote the Northeast Addictions Treatment Center: “After regular use, the abused drugs change the brain in a manner that the user loses the ability to endure the urge of using drugs.”
It’s widely debated whether or not addiction is a disease, but the chemical component of becoming an addict if something that can’t be ignored.
But what initiates that initial use that leads to addiction? Broken down below are some common getaways to drug abuse based on research.
A poor financial situation is a double-edged sword in regard to substance abuse. Not only are those in impoverished areas more likely to be exposed to drugs, but also seek illicit substances as a means of escapism. Some obviously also turn to drug-dealing as means to get out of a bad financial situation, which only leads them deeper down the proverbial rabbit hole.
Troubled Personal Relationships
Those locked in abusive or unsavory relationships are more likely to turn to abuse or be exposed to drugs. Likewise, children exposed to drugs at a young age run a high risk of becoming substance abusers themselves.
Poor Mental Health
The link between substance abuse and mental health problems is well-documented. Abusing drugs with existing mental health issues such as depression represents an unfortunate downward spiral where one condition makes the other exponentially worse. With such drug users often unable to financially or emotionally support themselves, it’s difficult to escape their situation.
Regardless of whyinitial drug abuse occurs, each of these paths can lead users to an untimely death via overdose.
The numbers don’t lie when it comes to the United States’ widespread drug abuse problem. As new policies and legislation continue to roll out to address these woes, we’ll just have to wait and see if these unfortunate figures drop as a result.