addiction treatment gap
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Addiction Treatment Gap: How Can We Fill It?

Addiction is a disease that’s very much unlike any other. While most other diseases are either physical or psychological in nature, addiction is one that’s actually both, or somewhere in between. Being so unlike other illnesses poses a very specific problem, which is that there’s no definitive, singular way to treat the disease of addiction due to its high degree of variability. In other words, each addict experiences the disease of addiction in their own unique way. This also means that each addict will have his or her own unique needs, which are best met by specific treatments and services that may not necessarily be as beneficial to others. Clearly, developing effective ways of helping people to overcome their addictions has been a very complicated process.

With there being such a wide variety of modalities and approaches to the treatment of addiction, one might assume that the majority of addicts would surely be taking advantage of the many opportunities that are available, allowing them to receive recovery treatments in a program that has been customized to their individual needs. However, the evidence shows that this is not the case.

So Many Addicts, So Few in Recovery

There have been a number of studies and surveys that have tried to find out the precise number of individuals who are currently suffering from addiction. This is no easy task because it depends on people being honest about whether or not they’re suffering from addiction, and there are likely going to be many people who aren’t willing to admit their addictions, not even anonymously in the form of a survey; therefore, the estimates that such surveys have reached are widely considered to be conservative estimates of the number of addicts in the United States with the actual number likely being much higher.

Some of the more recent surveys estimate that between 23 and 25 million Americans over the age of 12 meet the criteria for a substance abuse disorder or addiction. This represents approximately 10 percent of the American population and is significantly higher than the number of Americans who meet the diagnostic criteria for conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. Again, the actual number is likely a bit higher, but even this conservative estimate is staggering. Unfortunately, many of these same surveys have found that very few of those who meet the criteria for addiction are actually receiving or seeking treatment. The current estimate is that only one out of every ten addicts is in treatment, which means that the remaining 90 percent of addicts are on track to continue being in active addiction until the disease kills them.

Why Are There So Few Addicts Seeking Treatment?

The fact that there are so few of those in need receiving treatments that would allow them to regain their health and independence is disturbing. In fact, it’s unlikely that most people would have guessed the ratio of addicts in treatment to those who aren’t to be so low, but it’s clear there are unseen variables prohibiting those individuals from seeking the programming and services they need. In other words, there would appear to be some sort of personal circumstance or prohibitive variable that is keeping the majority of addicts out of recovery. This begs a very important question: What exactly is keeping these individuals from recovery?

There have been a number of factors suggested to explain why only 10 percent of all addicts are in treatment. For one thing, addiction can be extremely difficult to detect by anyone who doesn’t live in the same household with the addict and see him or her each day. Specifically, it’s unlikely for an individual’s doctor or primary care physician to realize that his or her patient is suffering from addiction unless the individual is exhibiting blatant signs of withdrawal or intoxication. It’s also believed that most physicians are poorly trained and inexperienced with addiction or substance abuse screening.

Another reason why many addicts will reject or resist recovery is because many addicts can’t bring themselves to admitting their addictions, especially to their family members, friends, and other loved ones. It’s common for addicts to believe that seeking treatment is tantamount to admitting to being an addict, which they feel will result in their being stigmatized and discriminated against. There are also many addicts who refuse to believe that they actually need treatment; these individuals often continue to believe that they could cease their substance abuse anytime they want, but the reason they’ve not stopped is because they simply don’t want to stop yet.

Finally, there’s a common belief among addicts that they’re simply unable to overcome their substance abuse habits. These individuals view the recovery process as consisting of their falling into a state of perpetual, neverending withdrawal with no sign of relief in sight. Unfortunately, this intense fear of recovery is often the result of having very little actual knowledge of addiction treatments and the recovery process.

Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap

With there being several inhibitory factors keeping individuals out of treatment, it’s important to develop a strategy for closing this huge gap, making recovery both more accessible and more achievable. One of the best ways to overcome the reluctance that many addicts have to the treatment and recovery process is to provide them with ample resources that will inform them about the process of physical and psychological discovery. In short, addicts who aren’t receiving or seeking treatment need to realize that enrolling in an addiction treatment program will afford them the opportunity to overcome addiction in a safe environment where they will receive continuous medical care, ensuring that they experience minimal discomfort and addressing their individual circumstances that may have contributed to the development of their addictions. In fact, providing thorough, comprehensive information about recovery and rehabs is one of several reasons why it’s beneficial to seek the help of a professional interventionist when planning an intervention for an addicted loved one.

Struggling with Addiction? Call Us Now

The gap between the number of individuals in active addiction and the number of addicts receiving treatment has been large, but that doesn’t mean the gap can’t be closed. It’s essential for those suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction to find the resources that are optimal for their needs. That’s where Drug Treatment Center Finder comes in.

We pride ourselves in having created a recovery network consisting of the best alcohol and drug rehabs nationwide. If you or someone you love would benefit from a free consultation in which we match you or your addicted loved one to the right treatment program, call Drug Treatment Center Finder today at 1-855-619-8070. Our team of intake coordinators and recovery specialists are available anytime, day or night, to help you or someone you love begin the journey to a long life of health and sobriety.