The drug and alcohol epidemic in the United States has surged in the last decade. From coast to coast, in every state, in metropolitan areas and small towns, and across economic, gender, and race boundaries, the country is struggling with substance use disorders, including addiction.
There is no one cause of addiction even in individual cases, and certainly, there is no one thing that has created the current state of affairs in the US. Rather, just as on an individual level there is usually a confluence of events that contribute to the development of addiction, there is likely a number of significant issues that have contributed to the high rates of substance use and addiction.
Identifying people who need help and ensuring that everyone has access to the comprehensive care they need to heal and overcome addiction is key, but so too is understanding what is underlying the disorder. If we can address these contributing factors, we may begin to eliminate new cases of addiction and help future generations to live with a lower risk of developing a substance use problem.
Economic Ups and Downs
Among the societal issues that many suspect have contributed to higher rates of heavy drug and alcohol use, especially among middle-aged and older adults, are the economic ups and downs that have characterized the last decade. Downsizing, bailouts, the dot.com bubble, the crash of the housing market, and the sharp spikes up and down of commodities like gold and silver as well as the stock market – all these things have contributed to a general state of unease among many who have worked hard to build a career for themselves and create a sense of financial stability for their families.
Many have lost their jobs, their savings, and their homes, or if they have not, the constant threat of loss has contributed to higher rates of depression and anxiety, which in turn may have contributed to increased use of drugs and alcohol. Feeling out of control can lead to feelings of disillusionment and fear, and many feel that the only way to manage the situation is to attempt to escape, even if only for a little while, by getting drunk or high.
Unfortunately, the result is that many find that they only increase their financial problems when they develop a drinking problem or drug habit. Not only is paying for the substance of choice expensive, but regular use can mean poor performance at work, missing work more often, or making mistakes that cause them to be on the chopping block when they may not otherwise have been.
The Cost of Drugs
Some of the drugs that have had a significant impact on the increase in drug use across the country are legal under certain circumstances. Prescription painkillers, opioid drugs, are legal for use when prescribed by a physician for the treatment of legitimate pain, but when they continue to be used by a patient after they are no longer medically necessary or when they are used by others without a prescription, it is termed “abuse” of the medication. In fact, any use outside the bounds of a doctor’s prescription is considered to be drug abuse and can lead to an addiction to the drug, especially when combined with use of other substances or when used in large amounts on a regular basis.
Pills are expensive, however. Even for those who have health insurance to help defray the costs, the bill can quickly add up. Buying them on the black market is even more expensive.
Many end up turning to a far cheaper and more easily accessible opiate drug as a result: heroin. Just as addictive and deadly with extra risks of its own, heroin has no medical purpose recognized in the United States. Though not everyone who walks out of a doctor’s office with a prescription for painkillers will ultimately develop a heroin addiction, and those who do often experience a number of other contributing factors, cheap heroin often contributes to ongoing opiate addiction as well as high rates of overdose and related addiction issues.
The Cost of Treatment
Another financial issue driving ongoing use of drugs and alcohol is the steep cost of many treatment programs. Though health insurance can help to cover part of the costs, many people find that copays and deductibles are difficult to cover and that many insurance providers will only cover certain services, leaving other necessary care options for to pay for out of pocket.
Many find the cost of treatment to be too difficult to deal with, especially when in crisis due to addiction. Trying to track down the details of a health insurance policy, locate a drug treatment program that will be able to work with that insurance provider, determine how much will be necessary to pay out of pocket, and then coming up with those funds – all this makes it far more difficult than it should be to get life-saving treatment for an addiction.
More than Money
Whether or not finances contributed to the development or continuation of a drug addiction disorder in your family, if you are struggling, the time is now to connect with treatment. At Sunrise House, our counselors can work with you to navigate the financial issues associated with treatment and help you to begin treatment as soon as possible. Learn more today.