Like with many things, there’s a lot of substance abuse misconceptions out there. Unfortunately, these misunderstandings can make it harder to understand substance abuse and its treatment. Therefore, it’s key to know what the realities are…
Substance Abuse Misconceptions: What’s The Facts?
Rates of abuse
People are more aware of how dangerous things such as opioids are now more than ever. Still, they may not fully grasp the extent of this ongoing crisis. That’s why one of the most common substance abuse misconceptions is related to just how many people struggle with this kind of addiction.
In the U.S., nearly 21 million people over the age of 12 have a substance abuse disorder. That’s nearly the same as the amount of people who have diabetes in the country! This number doesn’t even include those who struggle with binge or heavy drinking, which researchers estimate to include over 30% of those over the age of 12.
Misuse vs. abuse
Other substance abuse misconceptions are related to the supposed difference between misuse and abuse. A lot of people believe that they might mean different things. However, they actually both refer to the same kind of general addiction and improper use of drugs and alcohol.
However, according to the Surgeon General, only 10% of Americans who need treatment for their abuse actually get it each year. A large part of this is because of the stigma behind “abusing” a drug. Misuse is not as “harsh” as abuse, which is why you’ll see many places use the former instead of the latter.
Uptick in overdoses
In a lot of the news out there, it seems that rates of overdoses have been increasing. This in turn has given rise to new substance abuse misconceptions. In reality, the truth is a bit more complex than just more people overdosing on their own.
Instead, what’s been seen is that these overdoses are a side-effect of efforts to crack down on the illicit sale of prescription pills. Back in the 1990’s, doctors prescribed these pills at high rates, making them easily available. Now, authorities have been cracking down on these doctors, along with makers of “imitation” pills. While this has led to less pills being available, it’s also caused many to turn to heroin in an effort to get their high, which then leads to these overdoses.