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Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Voice Silenced: How Can We Stop the Plague of Addictions

The Voice of Whitney Houston Silenced

Thought for the day: Whitney Houston, "the Voice" was silenced yesterday. How many actors, singers, musicians & athletes in addition to ordinary people will perish before we overcome the epidemic of drug & alcohol addictions that plagues our society. I don't have all the answers, but some changes in education, advertizing practices & support from treatment programs like Green Demolitions could help. What ideas do you have? I don't believe in prohibition but what we are doing now is not working. How can our society build a respectful expectation for moderation & a reduction of alcohol consumption.

I started to write another blog post before I heard of the death of Whitney Houston. Although the cause of death is not clear, it is common knowledge that she suffered from a drug addiction. I feel compelled to change the post & focus on the epidemic of drug & alcohol addiction in this country. Over the course of my career, I have seen the impact addictions have on addicts & their families. The news is filled with stories of young rising stars in film, television, sports & music who turn to drugs & alcohol to deal with the stresses of notoriety. I am not sure whether the statistics would reveal higher percentages of alcohol & drug addictions among the wealthy elite or whether they are representative of the problem in all socioeconomic classes. However, rapid rise in fame & fortune may lead to easier access to expensive drugs & a higher incidence of addictions. Since stars are also role models for our youth, the problem impacts on all levels of society. Education, changes in advertizing & increased treatment programs are the keys to addressing this problem.

Here are some facts about alcohol & other drugs. First, the number one drug in the United States & the world is alcohol. The alcohol industry has succeeded in fooling people into believing that other drugs are different from alcohol. This is simply not true, alcohol is a drug with the same addictive traits as all the illegal & pharmaceutical drugs. Addictions are also physiological diseases like diabetes & heart conditions. Addicts need help & treatment programs to control the disease which never disappears. Once you are addicted, it does not go away, even after years of sobriety. Some people are predisposed genetically to become addicted to alcohol & other drugs. If one of your parents suffered from an addiction, your chances of becoming addicted are 50%. Your odds of marrying someone with problems with substance abuse are also 50%. The 1st odds are due to your biology; the 2nd, are due to psychological & environmental issues. If you have the physiological disposition, you may become addicted from your 1st drink. The younger you are when you start drinking, the higher the chances that you will become addicted (whether or not you have the physiological predisposition). Alcohol is a depressant, although it gives an initial high & reduces inhibitions, it is followed by depressive symptoms & a hangover if you drink too much. This is why when someone is depressed & drinks they are a high suicide risk.

Given these facts, schools need to help children understand the risks in experimenting with alcohol. Parents need to work with schools & the advertizing industry towards removal of false ads promoting alcohol as if it will make you happy, wealthy & popular. They also need to fight to ban advertizing from sports events & TV programs aired when children are watching. The cost of this epidemic is not only to those who are addicted. Drug & alcohol related accidents on our roads take the lives of innocent bystanders who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Although therapy is not always successful in treating addictions, a combination of individual & family therapy, AA or NA & hospital programs can help. I'd like to share a success story.  It is the story of someone who not only overcame an addiction, he is devoting his life to recycling building materials & recycling lives by helping recovering addicts & their families. Steve Feldman is a recovered addict. He was a teenage drug & alcohol abuser who had suffered two bouts of serious suicidal depression. He was also a man whose life was saved twenty-four years ago through a recovery program. His nonprofit organization, Green Demolitions, serves four different diverse populations: 1) They employ a “Green Team,” of skilled workers, 2) They help “Do-it-Yourselfers,” install luxury kitchens & renovation items in their homes at very affordable prices; 3) They provide economic stimulus for kitchen, bath, & home products to “Industry Professionals,” & 4) They help addicts & their families by offering therapeutic recovery opportunities worldwide. Click here to read more about Steve & Green Demolitions or to purchase the book & support their programs.

What programs are you familiar with? How would you propose to help stop the epidemic of addictions?

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