It is rather sad that our world is so filled with addiction issues that we have an International Overdose Awareness Day. This day is officially recognized on August 31.
- About 197 Americans now die every day from overdoses
- Drug overdose deaths have spiked drastically for three years in a row
- Drug overdoses killed 72,000 Americans in 2017—the most ever in a single year
There are a myriad of issues that can be evaluated that contribute to these statistics.
Some of these issues are: the availability many prescription drugs, illegal drugs, inability for individuals to regulate their emotions due to PTSD and other mental health issues (which causes them to turn to drugs), peer issues, bullying, and medical issues.
The consequences of our social ills have left our country in a major battle against drug addiction that is exploding with regularity and in devastating life consequences.
We also recognize that the statistics released by the CDC are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to drug usage.
We are understanding that our drug usage and addictions are pervasive, prevalent and costly. Billions of dollars are spent with loss of job wages, family discord, violence, crime and high costs of treatment. Our public health epidemic has left us in financial, emotional and relational crisis for individuals, families and communities.
We have discovered in our trauma educational programs the role of trauma in drug usage and addictions.
Most individuals who are struggling with serious addictions have some kind of trauma narrative. There are exceptions to this, but largely, the nucleus of drug addiction can be traced to some kind of adverse life event or trauma. And as a result, the event has caused the individual to turn to drugs to help medicate and/or numb the impact of the trauma in the past and of having to face the unknown.
Once again, we advocate education, treatment and interventions that help individuals find positive ways to deal with their trauma past or life difficulty. We have used drugs to treat so many of our emotional and relational issues which has lead us to this horrid epidemic that is now national in scope.
We need to have a much more realistic expectation of the recovery process.
We can do this by changing our treatment practices. However, it is equally important we mitigate occurrences of trauma in homes, families, communities, schools, and our country so that we do not have to turn to drugs to help us cope.
There are many healthy alternatives to help those who feel their options are limited to addictive drugs.
These alternatives need to be common language, available and promoted within our communities by professionals who are trained and well-positioned to help trauma victims find healthy solutions to their life circumstances.
These alternatives can provide positive, effective self-care.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO