Brief history and overview of addiction
Alcohol and drug addiction is not something new. In fact, evidence of substance abuse and addiction dates back thousands of years to the Neolithic Era (New Stone Age). Wine was popular with the ancient Egyptians, narcotics were in use around 4,000 BC, and marijuana was used medicinally in China during the 28th century BC. Ironically, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the active substances in these drugs were extracted.
For a while after substances such as cocaine, laudanum, and morphine were discovered, they were prescribed freely and completely unregulated. They were used as ingredients in patent medications and were sold in drugstores, through the mail, or by traveling salesmen. Morphine became very popular during the Civil War and opium dens began to flourish in San Francisco. It was estimated that there were a quarter of a million addicts in the US by the time we entered the early 1900’s.
Interestingly enough, the problems resulting from alcohol and drug abuse were only noticed gradually. The first legal measures taken against substance abuse when the opium dens of the Bay Area were outlawed in 1875. However, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was the first national drug law and required that accurate labels were applied to any medications that contained opium or other specific drugs.
The Harrison Narcotic Act of 1914 made it illegal for anyone except licensed doctors and pharmacies to sell cocaine or opiates in substantial doses. Heroin would eventually be completely banned and subsequent decisions made by the US Supreme Court made it illegal for any doctor to issue a prescription to an addict. Prohibition was enacted with the 18th Amendment in January of 1919 but would be repealed nearly 15 years later with the enactment of the 21st Amendment in December of 1933.
The advent of substance addiction rehabilitation
Although there is evidence to support the fact that alcoholism and drug addiction was being treated as early as the late 18th century in European asylums, it was treated in much the same way that schizophrenia was. Alcoholism rehab found its beginnings when AA was established in the 1930’s to help recovering alcoholics. However, it wasn’t until 1966 that Narconon saw its beginnings when the book “The Fundamentals of Thought”, written by L. Ron Hubbard, was distributed among substance abusers in the Arizona state prisons. There are many different treatment modalities which all have had a positive in the field of addiction. For example, many people in the medical field think drug addiction is a brain disease, but some believe it’s a learned behavior.
The current situation
Every year, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) publishes their state-by-state report on the current drug threats and the illegal trafficking of substances throughout the country. Their most current report lists the following substances besides alcohol as the primary drug threats in the US:
- Amphetamines and methamphetamines
- Cocaine (both crack and powder)
- MDMA’s (a.k.a. “club” or “date rape” drugs such as Ecstasy, GHB, etc.)
- Prescription drugs that are illegally sold on the street
Additionally, health organizations such as the CDC and other medical professionals view these substances as serious public health threats because there are now over 40 million cases of death due to overdose and serious illness associated with alcohol and drug abuse reported annually.
Alcohol and drug addiction statistics
Unfortunately, the impact of alcohol and drug abuse never gained any importance until certain organizations such as the CDC, NIDA, WHO, and other federal government agencies published statistics regarding these types of addictions. The following will give you an idea of how severed this issue is and how prevalent addiction has become in our society.
- 53% of US adults claim that they have one or more close relatives has a dependency on alcohol
- Alcohol abuse and addiction costs the US nearly a quarter of a billion dollars annually, which is more than what cancer and obesity cost the country
- 74% of children and teenagers aged 8 to 17 based their decision regarding drinking or not drinking on one of their parents
- Approximately 50% of all homicides committed in the US are alcohol-related while 40% of all assaults were alcohol-related
- Over 100,000 deaths in the US are directly or indirectly associated with drinking alcohol excessively including cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, drunk driving, falls, and strokes.
- The 18 to 25 age group is the most vulnerable to excessive alcohol and drug abuse
- Men are four times as likely to be heavy drinkers as what women are
- 25% of all the deaths in the US are associated with drug abuse
- Drug addicts spend 300% more on medical expenses than non-addicts do
- Over 530,000 hospital emergency rooms are taken for treating drug addicts every year
- Construction workers and food service employees account for more drug related problems in the workplace than any other occupations (e.g. absenteeism, loss of productivity, tardiness, violent behavior, etc.)
- Drug addicts cause 75% of all the domestic violence in the US
- 18 to 29 year olds are affected by drug abuse and addiction than any other age groups
- Roughly 50% of all Americans have a family member or loved one who is suffering with a drug abuse problem
The warning signs
Whether you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, there are a number of warning signs or “red flags” that indicate when a drug abuse problem or dependency issue is present. The following are the 10 primary warning signs to look for:
- changes at home
- changes at school
- change in possessions
- changes in physical appearance
- emotional instability
- inability to maintain relationships
- mental instability
- personality changes that cannot be explained
- sudden health problems
- unusual activities