How New Health Care Options Will Help Those with Substance Use and/or Mental Disorder

Recently, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA) released a new survey that showed the use of illicit drugs among Americans increased between 2008 and 2010. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows that 22.6 million Americans 12 or older (8.9-percent of the population) were current illicit drug users. Another disturbing trend is the continuing rise in the rate of current illicit drug use among young adults aged 18 to 25 – from 19.6-percent in 2008 to 21.5-percent in 2010.

An increased rate in the current use of marijuana seems to be one of the prime factors in the overall rise in illicit drug use. In 2010, 17.4 million Americans were current users of marijuana – compared to 14.4 million in 2007. young adults aged 18 to 25 – from 19.6-percent in 2008 to 21.5-percent in 2010.

Looking at regional data on student drug use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 30 percent of students in Kansas and nearly 35 percent of students in Missouri have used marijuana.

These statistics aren’t just numbers – they are real people and real lives that are being destroyed by the harmful and devastating effects of illict drug use. Many of the people using these substances are doing so to self-medicate the symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health problems or to escaped physical and emotional discomfort.

As a Recovery Program Specialist, I have firsthand knowledge of the devastation that addiction and/or mental illness brings to individuals and their families. This is a real issue in our community. It is our duty to educate the public about the effectiveness of treatment. The good news is substance use and mental disorders are conditions that, with professional help, can be treated like any other condition. The Affordable Care Act signed in March 2010 includes many new provisions aimed to improve physical and emotional health while ensuring people will receive the care they need at a more reasonable cost.

This month marks the observance of National Recovery Month. While aimed to celebrate both providers and those in recovery, we also use this time to educate our community that with treatment and recovery support services, people with substance abuse problems can improve their overall health and well-being, and reclaim their lives. As a responsible community, we must acknowledge and embrace the positive impact of treatment and recovery assistance.

The complete survey findings are available on the SAMHSA Web site at

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