Millions of Americans struggle with substance use disorder, yet only about one in 10 actually get life-saving treatment.
Shame, denial, lack of health care coverage, money, lack of available treatment options — there are many reasons why a person who needs treatment may not get it. Of the more than 20 million Americans with a substance use disorder, about 40% of people who know they need treatment aren’t ready, while others may not think they have a problem.
About one in seven people develop a substance use disorder, which is a medical illness that impairs health and function. Severe and chronic substance use disorders are often called addictions. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) recognizes substance use disorders as primary, progressive, chronic, relapsing and treatable.
Substance use treatment includes inpatient or residential, outpatient, counseling, medication and other options. Inpatient treatments options on the Mid-Shore include the A.F. Whitsitt Center in Chestertown and Warwick Manor Behavioral Health in East New Market. There also are options further away, on the Lower Shore and western side of the Bay. Outpatient treatment often includes a variety of programs, usually with a behavioral health counselor. Counseling can help modify behavior; medication can help manage withdrawal and prevent relapse.
Ideally, treatment should include both mental and medical health services with follow-up care, often including recovery support systems.
Substance use treatment is largely segregated from the rest of health care and serves only a fraction of those who need it. According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, evidence shows this segregation has created obstacles to care coordination. Integration, the report notes, can help reduce health care costs and improve general health outcomes.
The nation’s “treatment gap,” or gap between those who need treatment and those who receive treatment, is one reason the nation lost more than 70,000 people to drug overdoses last year. The need is so critical that the Office of National Drug Control Policy in February 2020 released a national treatment plan for substance use disorder. This strategy prioritizes increasing access to evidence-based treatments like Medication-Assisted Treatments for opioid use disorder and supports peer support services. Overall, the plan includes three pillars that include 22 areas of focus.
Strategies for improving access include more screenings from health care providers; using mobile treatment units; increase knowledge of how and where to access treatment, especially online/mobile; increase clinicians, especially in rural areas like the Mid-Shore; improve and increase public education and awareness efforts; and more. The full report is available at whitehouse.gov.
Treatment not only works, but it also saves money. For every dollar spent on treatment, $4 is saved in health care costs and $7 in criminal justice costs, according to the surgeon general’s report.
To find treatment, use SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357).
Talbot Goes Purple is an educational and awareness prevention program that empowers our youth and our community to “Go Purple” as a sign of taking a stand against substance abuse. The purpose of the program is to promote the “new conversation” – one that includes prescription drugs, alcohol, marijuana and e-cigarettes. TGP focuses on educating students about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, and works toward preventing kids from beginning to use these substances in the first place.
An initiative from the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office and Tidewater Rotary, in partnership with Talbot County Public Schools, Saints Peter & Paul School and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, Talbot Goes Purple empowers our youth and our community to “Go Purple” as a sign of taking a stand against substance abuse.
Talbot Goes Purple is a component fund of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization – donations to which are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.