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Exploring the Connection Between Addiction and Other Health and Social Problems (Video)

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This videotape presents a discussion about the costs of substance abuse addiction to American society.
Substance abuse addiction is costly to society in a number of ways. Problems related to alcoholism cost $165 billion annually in medical costs alone. The biggest cost is productivity losses due to medical problems related to alcohol addiction. The costs to employers include low performance and insurance costs. The medical community is taught that they don’t have to deal with addiction--that it is in the psychiatric realm. As a result, an opportunity to treat addiction is lost in emergency rooms and family practice and pediatrician offices. Insurance companies reinforce this attitude by not dealing with addiction costs. Substance abuse is the number one health problem in America and treatment is under-utilized. A whole range of quality treatment options is needed in the community. Employers need to be educated on addiction and recovery. The initial step is detoxification but treatment begins after detoxification is over. The cost of not treating addiction is greater than the cost of treatment addiction. An awareness of the social services available for addiction treatment is needed. If social and medical services are added to the treatment process, there is a better outcome. There is a stigma involved with addiction; dependence is viewed as a choice. These attitudes need to change. Fifty-eight percent of the costs of drug abuse are related to the criminal justice system. Over half of arrestees test positive for drugs at the time of arrest. Inmate treatment programs are needed to make people productive in society. The drug treatment community is always being challenged with new drugs on the market that force them to re-evaluate treatment methods. Addiction must be viewed as a health problem. Doctors should get involved with their patients because addiction is a treatable disorder. Large-scale screening for alcohol and drug addiction is needed, such as the screening for domestic abuse or hypertension. Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction should be celebrated. People in recovery must be seen as valued members of society.