Substance Abuse

National Prevention Week is an annual national awareness week that takes place during the third week in May (May12th-19th this year) in order to improve community involvement, enhance mental health partner engagement and increase mental health resource sharing within a community, state, and national level. Substance abuse and mental health disorders affect millions of individuals each year and stigma is one of the greatest barriers to obtaining treatment for these disorders. These disorders affect both genders and all age groups ranging from children and teenagers to college students and the elderly.

Addiction in the elderly

Substance abuse among senior citizens, individuals who are 65 years of age or older, is often underestimated and underdiagnosed. According to statistics, there are nearly 35 million individuals living in the United States who are 65 years of age or older substance use currently affects approximately 17 percent of this population and by the year 2020, the number of older adults with substance abuse problems is expected to double.

Mental health disorders in children

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 20 percent of all children in the United States either currently, or at some point in their life, will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Common mental health disorders in children 8-15 years of age order of prevalence include the following:

  • Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
  • Major depression and mood disorders
  • Conduct disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders

Mental health and substance abuse disorders in teenagers

  • In 2010, a national survey noted that 49.5 percent of teens met criteria for a possible mental health disorder diagnosis; 14.3 percent met criteria for a mood disorder
    such as depression.
  • In 2008, 4,513 individuals aged 10 to 24 committed suicide.
  • The most recent Monitoring the Future survey notes that 61.2 percent of 12th graders reported trying alcohol; around 22 percent of 8th graders reported the same thing.
  • In 2016, approximately 48 percent of high school seniors reported using illicit drugs at some point in their lifetime, and 38 percent had done them in the last year.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that teenagers who go through an episode of major depression are two-times more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol than other youth.

Alcohol use among college students

According to statistics, 60% of college students consumed alcohol in the past month and two out three college students have engaged in binge drinking in the past month. Each year, approximately 1,800 college students die from alcohol-related unintentional deaths and more than 60,000 college students are assaulted by another college student who is under the influence of alcohol. College is full of new beginnings, stressors and independence, leading many students to consume alcohol for their first time. Binge drinking as a way to cope with new stressors is not uncommon and this behavior can potentially lead to drug use, risky sexual behavior, academic decline, and injuries.

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