One of the things unique to America is the idea of self-determination and many of us internalize (and externalize) this ideology to fault. If someone is suffering from substance use disorder, the only one at fault for not contacting a south Florida drug rehab is that of the addict. If someone’s life collapses around them as a result of severe drug abuse, the onus is only on them to seek out south Florida detox treatment.
The problem with this line of thinking is that the effects of substance use disorder, as well as the solution, are not individualistic, though a good portion of the concentrated effects center around the person with the illness. In reality, where most of us agree we operate day to day, the effect of one person suffering from substance use disorder is not confined to themselves and the effects of their condition ripple out into the world, suggesting it’s not an individual problem but a community and society problem.
This problem is not shrinking, either, it’s growing.
Consider the situation of how environmental factors foster and encourage addiction. Consider the consequences of fostering addiction by ignoring it or refusing to offer any kind of help, whether direct with getting someone into, for instance, residential detox or indirectly by refusing to help with community funding for treatment centers in general. Even refusal to accept minor tax increases aimed at expanding healthcare to include addiction and mental health treatment options contributes to the problem.
Today, in America, nearly 20% of people over the age of 14 exhibit some form of substance use disorder. While many have quietly harbored their battles internally, other people have lost that ability to internalize their struggle, which explodes into the public. Currently, society is paying five times the cost of the AIDS epidemic in terms of socialized costs of covering related illnesses and deaths. The common belief is that cancer is the bigger threat to the American health liabilities, but in actuality, substance abuse is actually costing us twice as much as cancer monetarily. But we don’t say to a cancer patient, “Well, it’s your problem, you deal with it”. We understand that as a member of a modern, and mostly civilized society, that we are only as strong as our weakest links and that if we break the chain too much, there’s nothing to be proud about. There’s no society at that point, just a lot of sick, sick people.
Addiction is complicated and it’s not simply a matter of choice. When we, as a society, begin to disregard the needs of our fellow neighbors, we disregard the conditions that made the country great to begin with, which wasn’t rugged individualism, but care for one another, whether financially or physically. Now it’s time to consider how much the country needs the help of mental health access because if we don’t consider it, there soon may be no ‘greatness’ to return to.
Substance use disorders require professional treatment at centers like First Step Behavioral Health. If you or someone you know suffers from this chronic illness, call 866-319-6126 for treatment options.