The latest figures suggest that an astounding 23.5 million persons have either a drug or alcohol related substance disorder, according to the annual survey released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Medical research has more than confirmed the physiological effects of alcohol and drug abuse on the body.
Yet millions of Americans continue to mistreat their bodies by ingesting these harmful substances. We’re here to shed some light on the frightening facts.
Adolescent drinking is a principal issue which contributes to nearly 5,000 deaths annually (motor vehicle crashes, homicides, suicides, and injury related accidents). Binge drinking is prevalent on college campuses nationwide and although a number of non-profit agencies have initiated awareness campaigns to combat these rising numbers, it continues to be a problem.
In the United States, the legal drinking age is 21 years old. It was set by Congress in 1984 because the science of the time indicated that the brain stopped developing at that age.
Since then, however, studies have proven that the brain continues to grow until age 25. Excessive alcohol consumption has a direct impact on the neurotransmitters which regulate the brain’s activity center. Coordination, memory loss, and vitamin deficiencies are just a few of the risks associated with heavy consumption.
“Through excessive alcohol abuse, young adults’ brains are structurally changed by notably shrinking, and there are some significant changes to the white matter tracks,” says Clinical Director for Ambrosia Treatment Center Sal Raichbach.
The liver is the primary organ responsible for filtering chemicals out of the body. Long-term consumption of alcohol can lead to prolonged liver dysfunction (cirrhosis) which also negatively impacts the core function of the brain.
Hepatic encephalopathy occurs when the liver is unable to remove toxins from the blood. Over time, the toxic buildup can lead to low oxygen levels, kidney problems, as well as a number of other symptoms.
Any type of substance abuse, whether it’s alcohol or drugs, can be attributed to a root psychological problem. These deep seeded issues are further exacerbated with the addition of a mind altering substance and can result in major depression, panic disorders, anxiety, schizophrenia, and other neurological deficits.
Affordable Care Act
With the release of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ObamaCare, individuals suffering from alcohol addiction will be able to enroll in a rehabilitation program. Regulations stipulated by the ACA require treatment costs to be covered at least 60 percent. Of the millions of Americans needing rehabilitation treatment only one in ten receives it due to the high costs.
“Our society and our health care system have been slow to recognize and respond to addiction as a chronic, but treatable, condition,” said Dr. Kina Joy Taylor, the director of the CATG Initiative. “This is an historic step toward a comprehensive, integrated approach to health care that includes treatment of addiction.”
It’s vital to seek professional advice because signing up for any type of in or out-patient treatment. Prior to enrollment, a counselor should evaluate the nature of your addiction and the severity. Visit resources online to find a suitable location near you.
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