Tag Archives: Substance Abuse

Reversing the Trends of Substance Abuse, Drinking, Drug Use and Smoking

Reversing Trends of Substance Abuse Drinking Drug Use Smoking - Fight Addiction Now

The Tide of Addiction May Be Turning

Here’s some good news about addiction to encourage you to keep up the fight.

For decades, we’ve seen an increase in substance abuse involving illicit drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Young people especially usually contribute to higher percentages of experimentation with new drugs and abuse of so-called gateway drugs.

However, over the last several years, it seems this may be changing.

Decline Stretching Back a Decade

If there was a short-term drop in substance abuse, it might be dismissed as merely a blip on the radar. However, this positive trend stretches back all the way to the early 2000s, with a pronounced drop stretching all the way back to 2003.

A recently concluded survey of more than 200,000 teens showed a steady decline in substance abuse, with numbers among 12- to 17-year-olds declining by 49 percent in a 12-year period. The survey concluded that around 2 million fewer adolescents were abusing nicotine, drugs and alcohol over the period.

Cigarettes Are a Gateway Drug

An important fact amid these numbers is the significant decline in cigarette use among 12- to 17-year-olds. Even in the heyday of cigarette use, there was a certain stigma attached to young people smoking. The stigma of cigarette smoking has only grown over the last 20 years.

We know cigarettes are addictive and set the stage for moving on to other substances that are equally harmful. When a young person crosses the psychological boundary of cigarette smoking, pushing further into abusing other substances may be less of a leap.

Why This Matters to People Struggling with Substance Abuse

If you are fighting addiction yourself or fighting to stay clean after having kicked a habit, you may be asking why this matters to you. There are many ways your battle has inspired this decrease and benefited from it.

There’s no doubt that greater awareness and education have played a role in helping bring about the decline in substance abuse over the last decade. But while education programs and television ads are helpful, the impact of seeing someone you know struggling with addiction paints an even more vivid picture.

Where such issues were once kept hidden from view, this open sharing of struggles with addictive substances is now played out in the open. Beyond looking for an elusive silver lining, this is an actual example of good coming from even the darkest circumstances.

Those struggling with addiction currently benefit from this trend. As demand dries up, supply tends to follow. When the substance of your choice is readily available, staying clean is undeniably harder. As society starts to turn away from abusing harmful substances, availability becomes scarce.

Sure, you can always find a way to get that next cigarette, that next drink, that next fix, but if you must go looking for it, there’s an opportunity to find your way out instead. This trend can only benefit you as well.

What Is Causing This Decline?

Researchers are still speculating on what is causing this decline. With only a decade of results to explore, the reasons are not yet clear. We do know some movements have contributed to the decline, however:

Campaign Against Cigarettes

As mentioned earlier, cigarettes are a gateway into the world of substance abuse. During the last 20 years, much progress has been made in the campaign against cigarette addiction.

First, expensive taxes were put in place, and the monies from those taxes were used to fund public education programs that helped combat cigarette addiction, in addition to other benefits. As the cost of cigarettes increased, access for young people was restricted.

In addition, laws were enacted that made it tougher for young people to gain access to cigarettes in the first place. Overall, this led to a dramatic reduction in those addicted to nicotine products and likely paved the way for a decline in substance abuse across the board.

Greater Education

Those cigarette taxes helped fund education programs and commercials aimed at young people to warn them of the dangers of substance abuse. Celebrities and athletes increasingly joined in helping change the perception of addictive substances from cool to harmful, and young people listened.

These programs were influential in changing the culture of America’s youth and shaping a new generation with the idea that substance abuse was not only not cool, but not even worth trying.

Growing Risk Aversion

For reasons still unclear to researchers, young people in this time have a greater aversion to engaging in risky behavior than ever. Not only are young people not using addictive substances, but there is a sharp decline in teenage pregnancies and unprotected sex. Young people even use their seat belts when riding in a car more often than older generations.

This shying away from risky behavior has played a part in the decline of substance abuse, but it is still not clear what brought about that risk aversion.

Still More Work to Do

While this decline is a good start, there remains a great deal more to be done, possibly in the following areas:

  • More than 37 percent of high school seniors say they have been drunk at least once.
  • Marijuana legalization may be contributing to the slowing rate of cigarette smoking, as more forms of cannabis are readily accessible.
  • E-cigarette use remains at around 12 percent and is still seen as cool among young people.
  • Prescription drug abuse also remains a significant source of concern.

A dichotomy exists within the abuse of every kind of substance, though. Cigarette smoking, for example, is down across almost every demographic. In certain geographic areas, however, cigarette use has not declined and has even gained popularity.

While illicit drugs such as heroin are seeing a marked decrease in use over time, those who do use such drugs appear to be doing so more frequently, and are overdosing at frightening rates. In short, while substance abuse is down overall, where it does occur, the abuse appears to be worse than ever.

Cellphones: The New Drug?

Some researchers are pointing at the correlation between the advent of smartphones and the decline in substance abuse as being more than a coincidence. Indeed, there are reasons to believe that, in many ways, mobile phone usage and the constant access to social networks has in many ways filled the craving for excitement and novelty that drives people to use addictive substances in the first place.

If so, people in general, and young people in particular, may be trading one addiction for another. As anyone who has battled addiction knows, this can be a recipe for disaster and create an endless cycle of dependence.

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Statistics on Alcohol Use, Alcoholism and Alcohol-Related Health Issues

Statistics Alcohol Use Alcoholism and Alcohol Related Health Issues - Fight Addiction Now

Alcohol is one of the most widely consumed and dangerous substances in the United States. One of the most important facets of fighting alcoholism and alcohol-related health issues is identifying those most at risk and encouraging them to seek treatment sooner rather than later.

Alcohol-fueled deaths in America are one unfortunate result of a culture built around drinking, one which extends through all demographics. Additionally, alcohol-related health issues are the third-leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.

Understanding the Culture Behind Excessive Drinking

Unlike most other dangerous and addictive substances that are causing problems in the U.S., alcohol is legal to purchase, own and consume for adults of age 21 or older. Every state has unique laws when it comes to the purchase, transportation and distribution of alcohol.  All states have unique issues when it comes to alcohol, based on the demographics, industries and cultural scenes in each respective state.

For example, states with many colleges and universities often contend with “college town” problems like underage drinking, loud college parties and drunk driving. States with large manufacturing and industrial markets may see a prevalence of alcohol-related illnesses in workers who get in the habit of “unwinding” by drinking after a hard day’s work.

How Prevalent Is Alcohol Use?

Statistics of Men Vs Women Alcohol Poisoning Deaths - Fight Addiction Now

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 86 percent of respondents over the age of 18 reported drinking at some point in their lifetime.

More than 70 percent reported drinking within the past year, and 56 reported some amount of drinking within the past month.

This indicates that more than half of all American adults consume alcohol at least once per month, but the reality is that most consume alcohol far more than that.

The survey also reported that nearly 27 percent of all respondents over the age of 18 engaged in binge drinking within the past month, which generally refers to consuming five or more drinks in a single drinking session. Only 7 percent reported heavy alcohol use within the past month, but the term “heavy alcohol use” likely means different things to different people.

How Does the U.S. Compare at the Global Level?

Compared to alcohol-influenced deaths in other countries, the United States has one of the highest alcohol-related death rates in the world: The U.S. ranks 39th out of 172 countries for alcohol deaths per 100,000 residents.

Many factors influence this ranking, including society’s perceptions of alcohol, the glorification of alcohol in media and advertising, and social norms that dictate alcohol as a “social lubricant,” allowing people to more easily relax and socialize during their leisure time. The U.S. also has many thriving high-stress industries such as finance, technology, marketing, sales, education and others that often lead employees in these fields to seek stress relief in unhealthy ways.

Drug and alcohol abuse is very common in the tech industry, where professionals work long hours and face stiff competition while facing an enormous demand to innovate and stay ahead of competitors.

Alcohol Statistics by State

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly release reports covering alcohol statistics by state. While mostly rural states report some of the highest alcohol-related death rates, it’s important to bear in mind that these states have lower populations than others.

Therefore, fewer deaths in a low population state can equate to a higher death rate compared to many deaths in a high population state. People living in rural areas may also face additional difficulty with alcohol-related illnesses and addiction due to a lack of access to reliable treatment programs.

Deaths Per State

The states with the highest alcohol-related death rates from cirrhosis and liver disease in 2015 include:

  • New Mexico: 566 deaths (24.8 deaths per 100,000 residents)
  • Wyoming: 118 deaths (18.9 per 100,000 residents)
  • South Dakota: 139 deaths (16.1 rate)
  • Montana: 179 deaths (15.7 rate)
  • Alaska: 114 deaths (15.4 rate)

California (5,425), Texas (3,844) and Florida (3,084) reported the highest numbers of alcohol-related deaths in 2015, but these states are also some of the most densely populated in the country, so they only showed up in the middle of the rankings.

Which Behaviors Lead to Alcohol-Related Deaths?

“Alcohol-related deaths” is a blanket term that covers any type of death influenced by or expedited by alcohol. This can include:

  • Fatal alcohol poisoning from excessive drinking
  • Motor vehicle deaths from drunk driving
  • Fatal long-term health complications such as liver disease

The rates of these kinds of deaths coincide with alcohol consumption rates.

For example, states with high drinking rates often report high drunk driving accident and death rates as well as a higher number of deaths caused by alcohol-related illnesses such as cirrhosis and liver disease.

North Dakota appears toward the middle of the rankings for cirrhosis and liver disease-related deaths, but it has the highest drunk driving death rate at about 11.3 per 100,000, according to 2012 data from the CDC. Montana ranks fourth in the country for cirrhosis and liver disease-related deaths, while it comes in second for drunk driving-related deaths at 9.4 per 100,000.

Join the Fight Against Alcohol-Related Deaths

These alcohol statistics paint a picture of a country that may not fully recognize the dangers of alcohol. One of the most effective weapons in the fight against alcoholism and alcohol-related deaths is advocacy, and you may wonder what you can do at the personal level to curb these unfortunate alcohol statistics.

Fight Addiction Now is a grassroots community of individuals who understands the importance of education and advocacy in American communities. We invite anyone to share their insight, stories and advice to the other members of the Fight Addiction Now community to spread the word to Americans who have witnessed the tragic effects of alcoholism and alcohol-related health issues.

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Can You Get a DUI from Prescription Drugs? Legal Substance Use While Driving Might Be Considered Illegal

Can You Get a DUI from Prescription Drugs - Fight Addiction Now

Can You Get a DUI from Prescription Drugs?
Legal Substance Use While Driving Might Be Considered Illegal

Most Americans know they run the risk of a DUI conviction if they operate a vehicle under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol, but it is actually possible to receive a DUI from prescription drugs as well.

It’s vital for anyone who takes any type of prescription medication to understand the risks, warnings and potential side effects. If you are wondering about how a particular medication could impact your ability to drive, speak with your doctor about your concerns.

Why Are Prescription Drugs a DUI Risk?

Driving on Prescription DrugsMany prescription medications, especially painkillers and depressants, interfere with an individual’s ability to drive. Depth perception, movement tracking, reaction time and judging speed all become more difficult under the influence of some prescription drugs. Additionally, some prescription medications can cause adverse side effects if a person takes them incorrectly, such as after consuming alcohol or on an empty stomach.

Side effects of many prescription drugs include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting
  • Inability to focus
  • Reduced reaction times

These are very dangerous factors while on the road. While you may assume that there would be no justification for a DUI charge for prescription drugs because the drugs are legal, the issue is impairment.

If a medication impairs your ability to drive, it does not matter if the drug is legal for you to own and consume and prescribed by a doctor.

Federal Guidance on Driving on Prescription Drugs

The National Safety Commission released a report in 2009 offering guidance to the public about the issue of driving under the influence of certain prescription medications. Police officers aren’t able to carry testing equipment for every type of potentially dangerous drug in their police cars. Therefore, increasing public knowledge about the potential dangers of driving under the influence of prescription drugs is one of the best methods of preventing future prescription drug DUIs.

Ultimately, it is up to the officer on the scene to decide whether a driver is capable of safely managing his or her vehicle. If the officer believes a driver is under the influence of some type of drug, he or she will likely initiate an arrest if the driver is deemed a danger to the public. The officer will arrest suspected DUI drivers and allow the court to sort out the details later.

Are Prescription Drug DUIs Fair?

Many people may assume that a prescription drug DUI would carry a less severe punishment than DUI of alcohol or other illicit drugs, but this is not the case. If an officer arrests a driver for impairment, the substance causing the impairment is not really the issue. The main issue is that the driver is not in full control of his or her faculties and presents a danger to the rest of the public.

DUI laws vary by state, but generally the penalties include:

  • Heavy fines
  • Jail time
  • Community service
  • Education course completion
  • License suspension (or permanent revocation for repeat offenders)

Penalties typically increase with subsequent charges, so a driver with a record of DUI of alcohol could face very severe penalties if he or she receives another charge later for DUI of prescription drugs. The court does not determine penalties based on the type of drugs involved.

Potential Complications and Unfair Charges

There are a few factors that could lead to an unjustified DUI charge. Most Americans know of actress Lindsay Lohan and her many run-ins with law enforcement for drug crimes. Out of her many DUI convictions, she claims one was because of drinking kombucha tea.

Kombucha tea is a trendy health drink that contains live cultures and trace amounts of alcohol. Consuming kombucha tea could potentially lead to a positive breathalyzer reading due to these trace amounts, which Ms. Lohan claims led to an unjust DUI charge.

Another strange possibility is a medical condition known as “autobrewery syndrome” that causes individuals with this condition to literally brew their own alcohol inside their bodies. The condition entered the public discussion in 2015 when a woman from upstate New York received a breathalyzer test reading 4 times over the legal limit during a traffic stop. Also known as gut-fermentation syndrome, this condition is incredibly rare, and the judge presiding over the woman’s case dropped the charges.

The hospital who admitted the woman after the stop wanted to release her immediately because she showed no symptoms of intoxication. The hospital ran tests overnight, and the woman continued to read well over the legal limit the next morning after consuming no alcohol all night.

Join the Discussion

Fight Addiction Now is a grassroots community of individuals who come together to share advice, encouragement and stories about addiction. Considering the possibility of wrongful DUI convictions, what do you think about the possibility of receiving a DUI charge for prescription drugs?

These drugs can cause impairment and prevent an individual from safely driving a vehicle, but should they fall into the same category as drunk driving?

Join the Fight Addiction Now community on Facebook and let us know what you think, or start the discussion in our popular online forum.

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Wisonsin Boy Rescues Father From Overdose

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Wisonsin Boy Rescues Father From Overdose

This last Thursday in downtown Waukesha, Wisconsin, an 8-year-old boy found his dad unresponsive and in a slumped position over the steering wheel of their family car. The courageous young 8-year-old found himself in a position to take control of the critical situation by calling 911. When police arrived and emergency services provided assistance to the father that police would later report was the victim of a drug-overdose, Waukesha Police Cpt. Dan Bauman praised the boy for the actions he took that allowed his father to be taken to recover in a nearby hospital.

The Waukesha Police Cpt. Dan Bauman, that had commended the boy for his actions, also went on to advice the public on the seriousness of issues like this.

“This is not just a police department issue or a district attorney’s issue, we will not arrest our way out of this problem. This is a true community issue here”, he said when interviewed.

This time things ended up working out, thanks to the hasty actions of a young boy. All too often however, and in similar circumstances, there is often hesitation on the part of the individual, or individuals, that are in the position that that boy was in on Thursday. The hesitation to call 911 to the scene of a presumed overdose for fear out of possibly incurring criminal charges has been a topic of ongoing debate, and is the exact reason many in the past haven’t chosen to make what could have been a life-saving phone call, and a reason many still yet may hesitate to do so.

If emergency medical assistance can get to an overdose victim quickly enough many times they can prevent it from becoming fatal, but people using drugs or alcohol illegally often fear arrest if they call 911. In an effort to combat this hesitation many states have policies in place that exempt arrest and prosecution for minor drug and alcohol law violations – often referred to as Good Samaritan Laws, or Good Samaritan 911 Laws.

20 states in our country, as well as the District of Columbia, have policies in place that provide immunity from minor drug law violations, such as possession or possession of paraphernalia, though it’s important to note that these laws won’t apply to charges related to driving drunk or drugged, or to drug trafficking.

Click Here to find out if your state is one with a Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Law