QUAD CITIES (KWQC) – A new report by the U.S. Surgeon General is calling attention to the addiction epidemic across the U.S.
The new report find’s one in seven Americans will face drug or alcohol addiction during their lifetime. But only 10-percent of those now addicted receive treatment.
Addiction counselor for 16 years in the QCA Reginald Allen said there are plenty of reasons people start using alcohol or drugs, but one reason they don’t get help.
“Denial and substance dependence go hand in hand,” said the now founder and CEO of Quad Cities Intervention Services.
But before denial come the addiction. Allen said that can come from a number of stressors.
“Some people are looking for change,” he said. “Peer pressure, curiosity, especially in young people.”
This is how the country got to one in seven. And Allen said it’s not surprising that only ten percent of currents addicts are seeking treatment.
“Whether it’s alcohol or cocaine, meth, heroin, those things that have that influence, we don’t want [anybody] to know,” he said.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy believes these feelings are attached to a stigma society has placed on addiction, and is calling for a change.
“If we afford the same compassion and care to people living with addiction that we do to people living with any other chronic illness, then I believe we will be able to address the addiction crisis in America,” Murthy said.
Allen has a similar philosophy.
“You have to have this thing I call empathy,” he stressed.
When dealing with addicts in your own life, although Allen said empathy is key, he also encouraged tough love.
“You have to show him love by not giving into his use,” Allen said.
He said it’s tough. That’s why it’s called ‘tough love.’ But Allen said it’s the way for family and friends to help, until that individual chooses to accept their addiction.
“It’s tough on them and it’s tough on you,” he said. “But if I standby and do nothing or keep cosigning this type of behavior nothing’s going to change.”
Another obstacle to treatment is of course affordability. No two addicts are the same, but there are different levels of addiction. For those under financial restraints, a good place to start can be addiction meetings through places like community centers and churches.
This is the first time a surgeon general’s report has focused on drug and alcohol addiction.