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New Study Highlights Duration of Use Before Seeking Treatment

Several years ago, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) released statistics highlighting the length of time a person typically used a substance before they were ever treated for abuse issues. On average, the time between the start of use and the time the user sought treatment was 15.6 years. Men on average took longer to seek treatment at 16.5 years, while women on average took about 13.8 years to seek help for their abuse. Research was compiled using 669,000 adults who were admitted for substance abuse problems for the first time last year. The research is also interesting because it highlights the length of time between onset of use and treatment for abuse regarding specific drugs. Alcohol had the longest use period with 20.2 years on average for treatment and prescription painkillers as the shortest time at 7.8 years. A new SAMHSA report released in 2013 reveals that drug use for individuals aged 12 and older has remained about the same as the numbers released in the 2011 report. Almost 24 million Americans are current drug users, which is around 9 percent of the 12 and older population. Although prescription drug use and alcohol use has reduced among young adults aged 12 to 17, marijuana and heroin use has risen. The recent report also mentions that Americans are still not receiving the specialty treatment they need to overcome their addiction. SAMHSA estimates that at least 23 million Americans need treatment, but only 2.5 million receive it in the proper specialized setting. Individuals who needed treatment but did not receive it cited six common reasons: 1. They lacked the health coverage and were unable to afford the cost. 2. They were not ready to quit. 3. They were afraid of the potential negative perceptions at work. 4. They were afraid of the potential negative perceptions from community and neighbors. 5. They did not know which facility to choose. 6. They had health coverage, but it did not cover the cost. These reasons, as well as the overall results from the survey, mean there’s still a long way to go in the fight against drug abuse and addiction.

Supporting Individuals With Addiction Recovery

It’s important for us to be mindful of the struggles our loved ones face with addiction and offer compassion and support. It’s also important to educate others about these struggles, so we can remove the stigma attached with seeking treatment. Although these numbers are large, establishing patterns like this and discovering more information on the nature of abuse are instrumental in helping us solve this problem. With these findings, it shows that typically, people are abusing drugs or alcohol long before they ever actually seek treatment. This can have immense consequences for their own health as well as their relationships with others. Addiction to illicit substances is still an issue within society, and it needs to be addressed properly in order to help people recover safely and live productive lives. The answer is not to shun or ignore individuals who suffer with addiction if they are actively looking for ways to overcome it. Substance abuse is a difficult issue to tackle, but information and help are available to begin the process. Waiting to seek treatment is unlikely to be the solution, but it is an extremely common route because recovery is one of the most difficult (although rewarding) journeys of a person’s life to begin. For more information on substance abuse or in-patient treatment information, please visit (photo via)

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