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Addiction to both alcohol and drugs continues to plague millions of Americans to this day. It is estimated that about 20 million Americans are currently addicted to either alcohol or drugs. It is expected that around one in seven Americans at some point in their lives will suffer from addiction, but sadly only one in ten of those suffering from addiction will receive the treatment that they need. What is also an alarming figure to look at is the fact that about forty percent of individuals who are suffering from addiction are also suffering from a mental health condition; only half of this population receive treatment for either their addiction or mental health condition.

Alcohol and drug addiction were once only thought of as conditions that affected only those in urban settings; we see now how addiction is having an impact on even the rural counties throughout America. Many stories and reports are focusing on the rise of opiate addiction throughout these counties across the country. There are more and more accounts each day of people developing opium addictions based off if previous abuse of prescription pain medication. Too many people, in this case, are overly prescribed opioids such as Percocet, OxyContin, and other pain relievers; when many of them reach the point that they can no longer financially afford their addiction to these prescription drugs many turn to the black market to find them while others turn to cheaper alternatives such as heroin.

Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the surgeon general, stated upon the release of his report that, “it is time to change how we view addiction. One way to change how we view addiction is not to see them as failures, or worse criminals, but rather we should be treating those hampered by addiction as patients who are suffering from a disease.

Hopefully, by peeling away at the negative connotation that is associated with drug and alcohol addiction, we can start to encourage people to step up and seek the help that is offered at drug and alcohol rehab centers. By informing people that their addiction to drugs or alcohol is a disease and not a personal shortcoming, people might be more inclined to talk to their health care provider in the same way they would discuss the flu or other illness.

It is because of the negative beliefs that we attach with those suffering from addiction, that we see so many people who could benefit from programs offered through alcohol and drug treatment centers turn down the opportunity to receive proper treatment. Communication and understanding are two vitally important traits that all of us can use when it comes to discussing addiction. The more compassion and understanding that we give to people who are addicted to either drugs or alcohol, hopefully, we can alter the view of their condition which would make them more willing to seek help at an alcohol and drug treatment center.

Just showing support can go a long way, when helping others along their road to recovery. Although we cannot forcefully make people seek help, just changing how we see and talk about addiction can hopefully change the mindset of those who are struggling with addiction so that they no longer feel ashamed about their conditions, which will lead them to reach out for help before it is too late.

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