Fast Facts About Drug and Alcohol Use, Prevention, and Treatment

Researchers continue to learn more about the dangers of drug and alcohol misuse every day, but it remains a serious problem in the United States and around the world affecting millions of people. Launched in 2010 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the last full week of January is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. It is a week dedicated to raising awareness and education and breaking down myths surrounding drugs and alcohol.

Here are a few fast facts everyone should know:

  • Addiction does not discriminate.

Addiction can affect anyone at any time. It spans all genders, races, religions, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, professions, and more. There are many stereotypes about what someone struggling with addiction “looks like,” but in reality, it could be your neighbor, your lawyer, your cashier at the grocery store, or a family member.

  • Protective factors can help reduce risk.

Everyone experiences risk and protective factors in their lives that impact issues such as substance use. Some protective factors that can help reduce risk of drug or alcohol misuse include developing strong relationships, having support from family or other trusted adults, being actively involved in positive activities, having consistent rules and routines, developing effective coping skills, and understanding the risks and symptoms of alcohol use or drug use.

  • Prescription drugs can still be dangerous even when prescribed by a doctor.

Many people fall into a false sense of security about the safety of prescription drugs. While they are safe and effective when used as prescribed, if they are misused, they can lead to addiction. Opiates especially come with a high risk for addiction, so it is important to carefully monitor use and talk with your doctor about any concerns you may have.

  • Recovery is not a matter of willpower.

Overcoming addiction is not a matter of simply stopping substance use. Once addiction occurs, it changes how the brain processes information. No one starts using drugs or alcohol with the goal of becoming addicted. And recovery requires much more than physically stopping substance use; it also requires counseling and therapy to help individuals overcome the psychological impact of addiction and reduce risk of relapse.

  • There is no single factor that determines whether someone will become addicted.

Addiction does not develop solely from genetics, environment, or social factors. It is a combination of all of these things. Everyone is affected differently. There are many genes that have been linked to addiction risk, but also outside influences on a person’s life. Just because there is family history does not mean that a person is destined to struggle with addiction.

  • If someone relapses, it means treatment doesn’t work.

Addiction recovery is an ongoing process. It is not something that is achieved overnight. A slip or relapse is a sign that the person needs to reassess their approach to recovery and make necessary changes. Effective treatment combines strategies for addressing the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual effects of addiction. What works well for one person may not work as well for the next, so it is a matter of engaging in individualized treatment that meets each person’s unique needs. Treatment can be very effective and lead to lasting recovery, but there are many factors that go into it. It is important that individuals find the right program for their needs.

Crossroads provides comprehensive care spanning from detox through outpatient therapy and support groups. There are residential programs specifically for women and mothers, and outpatient treatment for both women and men. Recovery is possible, and Crossroads supports clients along every step of the way.

[cta]If substance misuse is impacting your family, turn to Crossroads for individualized care to begin recovery.[/cta]