The Buzz - A Blog About the Disease of Addiction | The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse

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Welcome to The Buzz—The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse's online conversation about addiction and substance use.

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Stories surrounding opioid addiction tend to be overwhelmingly negative and dire, often leaving people with little hope. This week – which President Obama proclaimed as Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week – I’d like to shift the conversation and talk about how one state has taken extraordinary measures in responding to the opioid epidemic. 

40 million Americans 12 or older meet the clinical criteria for addiction of nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs. That is more than the number of people with heart disease (27 million), diabetes (26 million) or cancer (19 million). Despite its prevalence in society, addiction is still widely misunderstood by many. Not enough is being done to prevent and reduce addiction, and the consequences are devastating. But, there is reason for hope; many people recover and go on to lead healthy and inspiring lives.  

Every year, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse hosts Family Day, a national initiative created to promote acts of parental engagement to help prevent teen substance use and raise healthy, resilient kids. 

Adolescents and young adults misuse prescription opioids more than any other age group, and teen substance use significantly increases the risk of developing addiction. They are also at highest risk for overdose. These are startling statistics, but there are three important steps parents can take to prevent their teens from misusing prescription drugs, reduce the chances of accidental overdose and avoid the devastation of opioid addiction.

As Americans continue to struggle with opioid addiction, many blame the pharmaceutical industry for driving the problem through the extensive marketing of pain medicine and promoting prescribing practices that many regard as reckless. A recent Los Angeles Times investigation focused on the pharmaceutical company Purdue and their opioid pain medication OxyContin. They found that Purdue pushed OxyContin on patients and physicians in ways many would find unethical, if not illegal. Additionally, the company helped convince Americans that opioid medications weren’t just for those in agony from cancer or major surgery – but that drugs like OxyContin could be used for much more manageable forms of short-term as well as chronic pain.

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