Tough Love Approach to Addiction

A lot of questioning has been directed at how to confront and handle drug and alcohol addicts in the nation.  With more than twenty-three million American addicted to drugs and alcohol, it is very likely that you know someone who is addicted to one or more of these substances.  If that person is very close to you, odds are you are quite worried about them, and you want to do something to help them.  Let’s take a look at the tough love approach to addiction and whether it has beneficial results.

We do know at this point, now that we have studied specific projects and programs, that if you are kind and supportive and empathetic to addicts and treat them with love, you will get good results.  If you do things like provide clean needles, provide opportunities for people to reverse overdose with emergency Naloxone or something like it, offer safe injecting spaces for them, then you are becoming the addict’s friend and ally and in doing these things you are not prolonging addiction. Many different areas all across the country have now started doing some of the above, and in every test group and geographic area, the drug abuse problem in that area, did not increase.

We then have to ask ourselves, if the tough love approach to addiction was the answer to our problems, then the above techniques would be things that should all prolong and increase addiction, yet it was found that the exact opposite is what was true.  Applying love and compassion to individuals who are abusing drugs and alcohol is a far more effective way than treating them poorly or like second class citizens instead.  That rarely works and instead just makes things worse.

Statistics on the Matter: Why We Must Effect Change Now

The drug abuse problem is getting out of control, and we have to focus on getting the problem taken care of as quickly as is possible before too many more people die.  We can’t afford to keep arguing about what the best way to address addiction; instead, we merely need to take action and address it now, before it is too late.

For example:

  • Misuse and abuse of alcohol and illicit drugs affect society through costs incurred secondary to crime, reduced productivity at work, and health care expenses among other things.
  • The overall costs of alcohol abuse amount to no less than $224 billion annually, with the costs to the healthcare system accounting for approximately $25 billion of that figure alone.
  • Substance abuse in the form of illicit drug use and prescription drug abuse costs the health care system about $11 billion, with overall costs reaching $193 billion.
  • Substance abuse and addiction also affect other areas too, such as broken families, destroyed careers, death due to negligence or accident, domestic violence, physical abuse, and child abuse just to name a few.
  • Drug abuse and addiction change your brain chemistry and your outlook on life. The longer you use your drug of choice, the more damage it creates and the harder it is to go back to a “normal” state during and after time spent in rehab beating the addiction.
  • Drug abuse and addiction is a chronic, relapsing, compulsive disorder that often requires formal treatment, and may call for multiple courses of treatment in the long run too.
  • According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately no less than 27 million Americans, or 10.2% of the American population over the age of 12 to be exact, reported using illicit drugs in the year of 2014.
  • The NSDUH also estimated that about 28.7 million people or 10.9% of the population over 12 drove while intoxicated at least once in the year of 2013.
  • An estimated 6.5 million Americans over the age of 12 reported current non-medical use of prescription drugs, such as painkillers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives just to name a few.
  • Estimates showed to us that in 2014, nearly 140 million Americans over the age of 12 were currently using alcohol.  Also, 16.3 million reported heavy alcohol use in the prior month alone, and 60.9 million have reported binge drinking in the preceding month alone, all reflecting an increase from previous years too.

Handling the Problem Without the Tough Love Approach to Addiction

We can help those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol with a firm yet kind outlook.  We don’t need to be cruel or authoritative towards them.  With a gentle yet unrelenting approach, we can get those in the nation who are addicted to drugs and alcohol into and through rehabilitation programs and out the other end in such a way that they will stay clean and sober for years to come.  These are workable substitutes for the tough love approach to addiction.

The use of compassion, understanding, and love is more important now than ever.  Very rarely is anything positive ever accomplished with threats, coercion, punishment or the tough love approach to addiction. With a caring yet unrelenting hand on the shoulders of addicts everywhere, we can finally do something about this addiction problem and indeed create positive change in those who are addicted.

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when help is so close.

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