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The Prevalence of Addiction

Do you know how many Americans are addicted to drugs? If you don’t know the answer to this question, there’s not a lot you can do to help end addiction on a very wide scale. That might be okay if you don’t actually care about whether or not other people are addicted to drugs and alcohol. You could have the idea that addiction doesn’t really have anything to do with you, after all. You do have to face the question, however – does addiction have anything to do with you?

Maybe you drink alcohol occasionally, you might tell yourself that it’s not a big deal, and you might be right. If you can have one beer a month when you’re at a party with friends and then not need to drink anymore if you don’t want to, you probably don’t have a problem. If you find the urge to drink creeping up on you more and more often, or if going out to the bars and getting wasted seems like a great activity for the night, then you might want to reconsider whether or not you really know what you’re doing.

How Many Americans are Addicted

The truth of the matter is that far more Americans fit the criteria of being addicted than most anyone realizes. A study published in 2012, for example, found that 40 million Americas are addicted to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. This number of Americans means that approximately 13% of our population is addicted to something.

You can’t ignore the fact that Americans are addicted to all of these drugs. You can’t say that nicotine addiction isn’t a big deal, because tobacco actually kills more Americans than any of the other drugs. Lung cancer is serious disease that millions of Americans are dealing with due to their inability to stop smoking.

Addiction and Your Family

We can’t afford to ignore any form of addiction, because if we do, we may find it striking much too close to home for our comfort. The odds are that someone in your family uses some form of drugs (and again, nicotine and alcohol definitely count.) It may not seem like there is anything wrong today, but these drugs can start to create adverse health effects before you ever know what hit you. They can both cause cancer in almost anyone that uses them over a long period of time.

Watch out for whether or not your loved ones are using any type of drug (even legal ones.) When you find someone using some form of drug, talk to them about your concerns for their health. Let them know that you don’t feel throwing away their health is worth the “buzz” they’re getting. You may be able to change the viewpoints of your family over time.

The World at Large

In addition to saving your family members from the destructive health consequences of drugs, there is a lot you can do to help even strangers get off of drugs. Support initiatives to ban smoking in public places, and also support public awareness campaigns that help the public understand how dangerous alcohol and tobacco actually are. When more Americans know what these drugs really do, fewer people use them.

When we all work together on these goals, we can help turn the tide of drug addiction around. Due to the hard work of health advocates across the country, the number of cigarette smokers and lung cancer victims have both been dropping. Now let’s see if we can do the same for every other drug!

Reference: Addiction Medicine – Closing the Gap Between Science and Practice

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