Your Brain on Drugs: Hope for Today

There do not seem to be any great statistics on the prevalence of addiction; however, there is quite a bit of information on the number of people using alcohol and other drugs. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2010 reports that approximately 8.9% of people over the age of 12 use illicit drugs (defined as illegal drugs or nonmedical use of prescription drugs). Only about 3.1% of the population who use illicit drugs feel the need for treatment, although the majority of these people do not actually seek treatment for a variety of reasons including not feeling ready to stop and not having access to treatment programs. Accessibility can be difficult because most treatment options are very expensive. Insurance companies are beginning to include coverage for expensive stays at alcohol and drug treatment centers. (In this article, the term addiction and addict includes alcoholism and alcoholic, respectively.) Some facilities have funding for people who are indigent at the state or county level, but need for treatment far surpasses the funds budgeted.  Looking at the biology of addiction, it is clear that treatment of some kind is required to get the disease under control. For any treatment to be effective, however, the addict must decide they are ready to stop using the drug. This can be a difficult decision because addiction is strongly tied to identity. Aside from the biological aspects, battling addiction is a long process that requires a lot of effort, usually a complete redesign of the addict’s lifestyle, and intense counseling to uncover issues that led to and resulted from the addiction. Continue reading “Your Brain on Drugs: Hope for Today”