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.
TEENS AND FAMILIES
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.
For over 30 years, programs like Scared Straight and juvenile boot camps for teens have been used as a way to try and help troubled youth. These programs utilize different methods that revolve around the same basic principle: that instilling a sense of consequence, discipline, fear, and pro-social behaviors in teens struggling with behavioral issues and substance problems will provide them with healthier, more structured lives, and deter them from committing crimes.
As America moves toward a more accurate understanding of addiction as a disease and not as a moral choice, there’s hope that popular culture will reflect this shift. Unfortunately, this is not the case with many popular television shows currently on the air.
For years, we’ve been telling parents to talk to their children about the dangers of prescription drug misuse, because these conversations can help reduce teen substance use and prevent addiction. Now there is a new reason for parents to have “the talk”– to warn them about the dangers of fentanyl, a deadly opioid being laced in drugs or substituted for other commonly abused opioids like heroin, OxyContin, Vicodin and Percodan.
As with most types of addiction, perceptions of who’s at risk for a gambling problem are often wrong. The most recent available data indicates that 2.1 percent of U.S. youth aged 14-21 engage in problem gambling – virtually the same percentage as adults with the disorder. Two-thirds of youth reported gambling in the past year and 11 percent said they gambled more than twice per week.
Our recent poll asked an important question: “If you thought your close friend had a drinking problem would you talk to him or her about it?”
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