Substance Abuse, Mental Illness, and Access to Care in Rural America
Getting adequate health care can be a challenge in rural America, particularly when addiction treatment and rehabilitation services are needed.
For the fourth year in a row, America recognizes October as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month in an effort to reduce the negative consequences of drug abuse in our communities.
From alcohol to prescriptions to illicit drugs, substance abuse and addiction affect millions of people nationwide. This month is a chance for recovering addicts, their loved ones and all members of the community to come together and show their support.
The goal of National Substance Abuse Prevention Month is to enact policies that reduce the harm caused by drug and alcohol abuse. Although this initiative was started in the White House, its hope is to reach every neighborhood and individual, encouraging prevention strategies on every level.
I call upon all Americans to engage in appropriate programs and activities to promote comprehensive substance abuse prevention efforts within their communities.
While the government may be responsible for change on a broad scale, there are many things that people can do to help the cause. Some strategies for substance abuse prevention include:
Teens and young adults are in positions of high risk when it comes to starting down a path of substance abuse. Middle schools, high schools and colleges can educate their students about the negative consequences of drug abuse and underage drinking. Targeted educational programs can help students make good choices about refusing or reducing drug use, depending on their current level of involvement.
Research suggests parental influence has the biggest impact on teenage substance abuse. Parents can make a huge difference in the life of their child by setting a good example of responsible substance use (or abstinence) and keeping the lines of communication open. Teenagers who feel comfortable talking to their parents are often less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.
Neighborhoods, religious groups and sports or clubs can all support substance abuse prevention. Hosting alcohol-free events can show young people that they don’t need to be under the influence to have fun. Informational movie nights, fundraisers and other healthy, engaging activities can all show support and increase awareness for the cause.
Learn more about prevention strategies for teenage substance abuse.
The effects of substance abuse in America are far-reaching. Even those who don’t recognize an immediate connection to substance abuse are still impacted. An estimated $193 billion is lost to crime, health costs and lost productivity due to substance abuse.
Each dollar invested in an evidenced-based prevention program can reduce costs related to substance use disorders by an average of $18, according to a 2012 release by the White House. It has long been understood that prevention can help reduce the financial burden on society. More importantly, it helps relieve the struggles and suffering of addicts and may even help prevent the loss of lives.
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