According to research from the Pew Research Center, nearly half of Americans know someone personally that has been addicted to drugs. This statistic includes family members or friends.
Pew’s findings paint an illuminating portrait of the sprawling drug epidemic in the United States, though the results reveal something deeper: that the epidemic is one that does not discriminate, regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, or race.
In fact, in all categories that call for a split between groups, the numbers were almost dead-even. Men vs. women; republican vs. democrat—addiction has touched each group’s friends and families in an equal and powerful way.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that 28.6 million people aged 12 or older used an illicit drug in the past 30 days, at the time of the 2016 survey. That statistic equates to around 10.6 percent of all Americans.
The research, available here, acts as another puzzle piece of the epidemic that has claimed countless lives recent years. Particularly in light of the opioid crisis, it is stunning to realize just how many Americans this epidemic has affected, whether directly or indirectly.
As so many of us know someone, or have been personally affected by addiction, it is crucial to make supportive resources available for those who are struggling. Whether this means compassionate addiction treatment centers for addicts, or support groups for family members and friends who have lost a loved one or are currently battling the disease—we must make education and assistance a priority.
We need to create a more progressive approach to addiction treatment– and that begins with the realization that we, as a nation, are vulnerable to the same problems.
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