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Opioids are dominating the addiction-related headlines shaping public consciousness: the current epidemic, physician prescribing rates, fentanyl coming in from China. This is for good reason. The opioid epidemic is a public health menace that claimed 47,600 lives in 2017, is growing stronger each year, and requires aggressive action to turn the tide.
But with so much attention on opioids, we’ve taken our eye off of a growing concern that surpasses our nation’s opioid problem: alcohol, and alcohol-related death.
Last year 88,000 people died due to alcohol use — nearly twice the mortality count from opioids, and currently the third leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Like opioids, this number continues to increase: from 2007 to 2017, deaths due to alcohol increased by 35 percent. For women, the increase was a staggering 85 percent.
Alcohol, and its $1.3 trillion per year global industry, has become so ingrained in our culture that we just accept its presence, despite the tremendous toll it takes on society. But its costs are something we cannot simply accept. Take, for example, the following:
Startling as these numbers are, they don’t capture the impact an alcohol addiction has on the lives of family members, particularly children. The fear, uncertainty, neglect, and heartbreak can’t be captured in numbers, and the results can last for a lifetime.
So, what can we do?
The first step in solving a problem is recognizing it in the first place.
Alcohol use has become so normalized that many people may not realize that their use has grown out of hand, or is becoming a problem. To determine whether you or a loved one may have a problem, think about the CAGE questions:
If you answered “yes” to any two of the questions above, it could indicate a problem. In addition, other useful questions to examine are:
If any of the above sound familiar, it may be time to look for some help.
How do you move forward? Think of a three-pronged approach:
We must pay attention to our relationship with alcohol if we want to improve the overall health of our communities. Just because we’re familiar with alcohol does not make it any safer, and just because it’s been a problem for many years does not mean we should ignore it. If anything, the opposite is true.
If you or a loved one believe you may need help with an alcohol problem, please call us at Linden Oaks at 630-305-5027. Our trained clinical staff will help direct you toward resources, including our free in-person assessment to determine the steps you can take to help you achieve your goals.
No matter where you are right now, remember: addiction can be managed, problems can be solved, and it is never too late to live your best life. Let’s get there, together.
Find support at Linden Oaks Behvioral Health.
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