According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services), 22 million Americans currently struggle with addiction. Statistically, that means one in 12 individuals in our society currently experience a dependency on alcohol, prescription pills, and other illicit drugs. Prescription pill and heroine abuse has seen a strong resurgence in recent years- and opiate dependency is at an all time high. Unfortunately, these statistics lead to harmful stereotypes and misplaced blame- often targeting parents, drug manufacturers, and environment as the source of this phenomenon.
Sober Living America (SLA) is an organization focused on both addiction awareness and recovery, and has launched a new program focused on assisting these individuals currently struggling with addiction. Through 20 years serving the addiction community, SLA have worked with over 50,000 individuals in recovery, and offer a alternative perspective on the current addiction climate.
“One in 12 individuals lose control when they drink alcohol or take pills,” explain Jim deVarennes, president and founder. “I have explained to countless parents and spouses that in this situation- we shouldn’t ask ourselves ‘what did we do wrong’. The majority of the people we work with come from loving, caring families- who really did the best they could do. The thing that is so often overlooked- that traditional drug prevention programs don’t teach- is that it isn’t the drug at fault. Yes- meth and heroine are strongly addictive, but we have to look at the makeup of the individual to get to the root of the issue.” Sober Living America’s Friends Care Campaign is based on this crucial new principle, which they call the ‘One in 12’. Their educational initiative focuses on teaching young adults the signs and symptoms of the ‘one in 12’ personality, and how to help a friend or loved one that you have identified as being at risk.
“Our program focuses primarily on high school and college aged students, which is the age that individuals start experimenting with drugs and alcohol. All of us knew someone in college who would fit the description of ‘one in 12’. These are the individuals who are blacking out regularly when drinking, skipping class to drink, or don’t want to engage in any activity that doesn’t involve alcohol. Our literature was designed to help not only these individuals to register their own warning signs, but also to get their friends involved with the process. Our objective is to arm these individuals with the tools they need to become aware of their predisposition for addiction at this early age and to help prevent them from falling into a truly addictive lifestyle in the future.”
Addiction is often seen as an epidemic that targets a specific demographic- often, that it targets the underprivileged or uneducated of society. However, addiction prevalence can be found within every race, sex, and social class in American society. With the rapid escalation of prescription pill abuse and accompanying addiction issues, more and more people are finding themselves struggling with a dependency they did not choose. “This is a sad situation that we see over and over again,” Jim explains. “The medical community prescribes pain killers for most pain related situations- a car accident, chronic illness or pain, even having a baby. Most people who are prescribed these medications will use them as intended. But, if you are the one in 12, you will have a different reaction and can become addicted to these prescriptions. In this scenario- no one is really to blame. The pharmaceutical companies didn’t create these drugs to hurt people- many people rely on these to live a comfortable, normal life. And doctors aren’t trained to assess whether or not the people they are prescribing them to could become addicted. These people don’t even know that they are susceptible to becoming addicted. In many ways, it is a perfect storm. But, it is resulting in an wide-spread epidemic that must be helped- or else it is just going to get worse.”
Sober Living America believes that the solution lies within education- and, affordable recovery services. SLA’s mission is to help educate young adults to better understand addiction, and through this awareness help save more of these individuals from falling into the pitfalls of addiction. “No one wants to be addicted. People want to drink socially and take the medications they need, but no one wants their life to revolve around these things,” Jim explains. “What we want to do is help these students, their friends, and their families better understand addiction and how to help. I truly believe that this will not only help prevent people from having to fight the really hard battle of addiction, but also hopefully to save people’s lives.”
For more information on Sober Living America’s educational program, visit www.SoberLivingAmerica.org. Or, if you have a friend or family member that needs help, call us at 404-634-4974.
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