There is an evident and noticeable change in the air regarding the perception of drug and alcohol addiction and how it should be combatted in the United States. As more and more Americans succumb to heroin and prescription opioid overdose every day, and more remain vulnerable to alcoholism, cocaine abuse and myriad other substance abuse threats, it seems as though the proper amount of attention is finally being paid to this complex and multifaceted problem. The United States Legislature is gaining a deeper understanding of the drivers of substance abuse and the best approaches to dealing with it on a micro and macro level. An added benefit of this heightened understanding is that it keeps the issue of addiction fresh in the national conversation.
The reality of addiction treatment is that there is a variety of competing cultural and political forces that currently dictate its accessibility. Understanding these factors can render us better engaged in our own recovery and better able to stay on track. It can also help us to better understand the plight of our addicted loved ones and what they go through in order to seek treatment. There are ever-changing laws and insurance regulations that directly impact the substance abuse treatment landscape, and it helps to keep abreast of any new developments. When a new law passes expanding or limiting access to medications, we should know about it. When a new drug is approved to treat withdrawal symptoms, it helps to know its benefits and risks.
Whether we’re in recovery ourselves or dealing with an addicted friend or family member, we can benefit greatly by staying informed of new developments in addiction care while understanding the competing ideologies that dictate the accessibility of treatment. These ideologies directly impact the money, institutional attention and compassion with which we or our loved ones are treated, and can make the difference between relapse and continued recovery. As we move further along in our recovery, part of our routine should be continuing our education regarding the issues that impact our community and the social factors that facilitate and inhibit our personal success. Knowledge is power…arm yourself.