Each September, National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT).  The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., is a Planning Partner and has been a sponsor since it’s inception 22 years ago.  The observance is to educate Americans on the fact that addiction treatment and mental health services can enable those with a substance use or mental disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life.  The message of Recovery Month is that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.  

The vast majority of drug users are employed, and when they arrive for work, they don’t leave their problems at the door.  In 2005, there were 17.2 million illicit drug users aged 18 or older.  Seventy-five per cent of them were employed either full or part time.  Sadly, research has indicated that between 10 and 20 per cent of workers who died on the job tested positive for alcohol or other drugs.  Industries with the highest rates of drug use are the same as those at a high risk for occupational injuries, such as construction, mining, manufacturing and wholesale. 

Drug-free workplaces help improve worker safety and health and add value to American businesses.  Not only are those who abuse drugs and alcohol at risk for injury, either at work, home, or driving down the highway, they are endangering their fellow workers, families, or others on the roads.  A comprehensive drug-free workforce approach includes five components:

  1. An enforced policy.
  2. Supervisor training.
  3. Employee education.
  4. Employee assistance.
  5. Drug testing.  

One of the most significant challenges faced by NCADD and their affiliates is putting the problems of alcohol and drugs into a perspective that the general public can understand.  When alcohol is discussed along with other drugs, the general public, the media and policy makers tend to focus on the more dramatic issues of illegal drugs or just drinking and driving, as if it is the only alcohol-related problem.  

Recent results of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 92% of adults aged 21 to 64 in the U.S. with alcohol problems – those that meet diagnostic criteria for either alcohol abuse disorder or alcohol dependence – do not see a need for treatment.  Through this survey, the following question was asked of those persons with alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence: “During the past 12 months, did you need treatment or counseling for your use of alcohol?”  Survey results for Alcohol Abuse: NO: 98.8%; YES: 1.2%.  Survey results for Alcohol Dependence:  NO: 92.2%; YES: 7.8%. 

Chances are we all know someone who has had or has a problem with alcohol, and won’t admit or accept that there is a need for help.  You may have heard the following: 

  • “If you had a job like mine, you’d drink, too!”
  • “The cops in this town have always been out to get me.”
  • “I don’t need help.  I can stop anytime I want to.”
  • “My husband will never admit that he has a problem, or seek help.”
  • ”It’s not that bad, I don’t drink every day and I have a job.”
  • “If you’d just get off my back, things wouldn’t be so bad.” 

Alcoholism is a chronic and progressive disease, getting help NOW and not waiting is important.  If you had heart disease, diabetes, or other health problems, you would be looking for medical treatment to help you recover.  The sooner one seeks help, the better chances for recovery.  Many individuals and family members do not seek help for different reasons.  Those who abuse their bodies with drugs and alcohol victimize their families, and if they won’t ask for help or change their ways, there are avenues of support for families or friends. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that addiction is characterized by complex and intense cravings, along with compulsive behavior to satisfy those cravings.  This causes interpersonal distress to the user, family, friends and co-workers.  There are many types of recovery programs.  Certain persons may require several different types of programs, such as inpatient, outpatient counseling and support meetings.  Many times, support can be received through the employer.  With the lack of jobs in this country, those who are fortunate enough to have one should try to remain healthy, and draw on their strengths, rather than dependences. 



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