National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month
October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, an annual observance that focuses on raising awareness and urging communities to take action to prevent substance use.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) says on their website “Each year families, communities, and organizations across the country come together to raise awareness about the importance of substance use prevention and the importance of investing in prevention first.”

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports the following grim statistics regarding the rapidly growing problem:

  • In 2016, 7.5 percent of Americans aged 12 or older— approximately 20.1 million people— had a substance use disorder in the past year. Of those, about 1 in 3 (36.7 percent) struggled with illicit drug use; about 3 in 4 (74.9 percent) struggled with alcohol use; and about 1 in 9 (11.7 percent) had both an alcohol use disorder and an illicit drug use disorder.

  • In 2016, 11.8 million people over the age of 12 misused opioids in the past year and the majority of that (11.5 million) is pain reliever misuse rather than heroin use.

  • Approximately 11.8 million individuals misused opioids in 2016 – or 4.4 percent of population of people over the age of 12. The vast majority, 11.5 of the 11.8 million opioid misusers, were misusing prescription pain relievers.

  • From the period 2002 through 2016, the U.S. has witnessed a 2.35 fold (135 percent) increase in the number of heroin users while the nation has been jolted by a 6.33 fold (533 percent) increase in the number of deaths attributable to heroin.

  • Marijuana remains the most widely used illicit drug accounting for 13.9 percent of the total U.S. population aged 12 or older, or 37.6 million people.

  • Prescription psychotherapeutics are the next most widely misused substance, with 6.9 percent of the total U.S. population aged 12 or older or 18.7 million people. Prescription pain relievers – opioids – were the most commonly misused psychotherapeutic.

Recently the Senate passed The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. According to USA Today, the Senate package would support the development of nonaddictive painkillers as well as expand access to programs to prevent and treat opioid addiction. One preventive measure is to provide grants to states to buy back unused prescriptions.

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