Addiction in America

September is National Recovery Month, a time to celebrate lives now free from addiction to drugs, tobacco or alcohol. Just in time is a survey conducted through New York’s Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) which blows the trumpet for recovery in America. According to the OASAS survey, around 10 percent of adult Americans say that they are recovered or in recovery from alcohol or substance abuse. That works out to more than 23 million Americans in recovery today.

The survey included questions which asked participants to describe their recovery as well as their former habit. Some interesting trends were revealed.

  • Middle aged Americans are most likely to be in recovery. The greatest numbers of former addicts now living sober were found in the 35 to 44 year old age bracket. Middle aged people were more likely to be in recovery than younger (18-34) or older (over age 55) Americans.
  • More men than women in America have come through recovery. Around 12 percent of men compared to seven percent of women described themselves as living in recovery.
  • The Midwest is most serious about overcoming addiction. More people in the Midwest reported being in recovery than in the West (11 percent), the Northeast (nine percent) or the South (seven percent).
  • A complimentary survey from 2004 found that nearly 40 percent of us have a friend or family member who is in recovery. This is an everyday, everyman issue.
  • Prevention efforts should be heavily weighted towards reaching teens. Research says that 90 percent of addictions begin in adolescence. Estimates are that as many as 11 million young people are currently in need of addiction treatment. Young bodies and minds are most vulnerable to the ravages of addiction.
  • Looking over the past 10 years, cocaine use is down while prescription drug abuse is up – especially abuse of prescription opioids. New stats on returning female war veterans show that this demographic are a significant abuser of prescription painkillers.
  • Methamphetamine use had been on the wane since tighter regulations were put in place on over-the-counter cold medicines used to manufacture the drug. Drug makers have found ways to get around those restrictions and meth use is once again beginning to climb.
  • While the prejudiced impression may be that young African-American men are big into these drugs, cocaine and meth are actually most abused by white males.
  • More young women than ever before are consuming alcohol.

While the report doesn’t hide the hard news, it is full of great news. The survey shows that literally millions of Americans have recognized their addiction, sought help and found recovery. The drumbeat of hope is that while addiction hasn’t gone away, treatment is available and recovery is very possible.

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