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STEVE WOLFE: Face of addiction has changed

by on May 27, 2014 10:50 AM

We want to applaud The Indiana Gazette for its bold and provocative series on addiction.

Substance abuse is a huge and growing issue that impacts the health of our community right here in Indiana County.

The IRMC Bork Emergency Center sees approximately 10 patients a day with drug and/or alcohol medical care needs, patients struggling with suicidal or homicidal thoughts, or seeking controlled substances.

A recent story by Healthcare News shared the annual numbers on addiction from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

I’ve included some highlights to help paint the surprising picture of addiction today.

The problem is broad with an estimated 24 million Americans having a serious substance abuse problem and another 1.84 million seeking admission to a treatment facility.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, the number of men seeking help for substance abuse exceeds women, 2 to 1.

Surprisingly though, the gap is narrowing and women are finding it harder to stop and easier to relapse.

Today, women are using methamphetamines almost twice as much as men.

Also, women are leading a new group of addiction — women over 65 becoming addicted to prescription pain relievers (three times more than men).

While marijuana continues to lead teens seeking treatment (80.7 percent), the rise in heroin is alarming.

The prescription drug market is tightening due to supply and cost, but heroin is very affordable by comparison.

In talking with a local law enforcement leader, he indicated that they see a repeated scenario where someone gets on heroin, drains all resources to keep the habit going and then things hit rock bottom.

Because it is inexpensive and the fact that one use can lead to a lifetime addiction, this drug can ruin or destroy many lives.

Alcohol continues to be the No. 1 addiction for middle-aged men and women.

Addiction’s face is changing and is impacting all age groups, sexes and races.

Now is the time to get involved. You are worth it.

Steve Wolfe, the President and CEO of Indiana Regional Medical Center, writes the periodic Seeds of Wellness column in The Indiana Gazette. His columns appear Tuesdays on the Health Page in the paper and in the Community News on The Indiana Gazette Online.
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