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Spotlight on Substance Abuse Awareness: October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

Millions of Americans suffer from substance abuse, which includes underage drinking, alcohol dependency, non-medical use of prescription drugs, abuse of over-the-counter medications, and illicit drug use. Since 2011, October has been recognized as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month in the United States.

In 2020, more than 93,000 Americans died of a drug overdose, up. Nearly 30% from 2019. This year alone, more than 20 million Americans ages 12 and older have been diagnosed with substance abuse disorders. That number—along with associated deaths—is steadily increasing.

In North Carolina, from January 2019 to December 2020, drug overdose deaths increased from 2,000 to 3,000, concurrent with national statistics. In January 2020, the state saw 2,273 reported overdose deaths. While marijuana is the most abused drug in North Carolina, followed by cocaine and heroin, alcohol abuse has been on the rise, with 4,000 alcohol-reported deaths in 2017.

Prevention strategies targeting the root of the problem are essential to curb drug use and help people lead healthier lives. Early intervention helps prevent substance abuse and reduce the negative consequences of addiction before they occur. Through community-based efforts involving youth, parents, educators, and government officers, the support systems that deter our nation’s young people from drug consumption can be strengthened.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse costs the country an estimated $740 billion annually. Research shows that for every dollar invested in an evidence-based prevention program, the costs related to substance use disorders decrease by an average of $18.

RehabAid, an online substance abuse treatment provider, offers a state-by-state interactive drug overdose map which identifies treatment and support organizations in local communities. Additional resources for those seeking help include SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and Addiction Center.

This month celebrate those who are making the steps to overcome addiction and live a healthier life. The road to recovery is an individualize process. It is never too late to educate yourself about preventing addiction and encouraging a friend or family member to seek treatment.

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