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Recovery Benefits Everyone

Alcohol and drug addiction carry tremendous costs to the individual, his or her family, employers and the community. As the Cayman Islands ends its observance of Recovery Month, it’s important to remember the benefits of intervention and prevention.

According to a Norwegian police chief “every new drug abuser lures or persuades about 3-4 of his acquaintances to try the drug. Each of these make 3-4 others join and so on, thus creating an increase like a geometric pattern: 3-9-27-72 and so on.”

As drug abusers form communities of users, so society initiates and supports programmes — such as law enforcement, prison treatment, adolescent prevention/treatment, community outreach, half-way and aftercare services, and inpatient and outpatient programmes – to form communities for those in recovery.

The economic, health, and social benefits of the treatment and recovery of addicts are well documented. The statistics below from the USA provide support for the necessity of treatment of alcohol and drug addiction:

Since 1980, the number of deaths related to drug overdoses has risen over 540 per cent.

Alcoholism causes 500 million lost workdays each year. In adults 50 years and older, alcohol was the most frequently reported primary substance of abuse for all substance abuse treatment admissions. Of those admissions, 76 per cent were 65 and older.

Each year, drug abuse and drug addiction cost employers over $122 billion in lost productivity and another $15 billion in health insurance costs.

Monitoring the future, 66.5 per cent of high school seniors reported drinking alcohol and 31.5 per cent reported using marijuana in the last 12 months.

(These statistics come from health-based agencies such as SAMHSA, NIDA and the Caron report.)

In a February 2005 review paper, the authors (Belenko, Patapis and French) noted “nearly two decades of treatment research, represented by hundreds of studies, finds that substance abuse treatment… results in clinically significant reductions in alcohol and drug use, crime and improvement in health and social function for many clients.”

Spending on addiction intervention programmes is an investment in the entire community. Not only is the recovering addict’s quality of life improved but so also are the lives of those with whom the recovering person interacts. Restoring an individual to normalcy has a positive impact on the prevention of crime, disease, and the harmful influence of addiction.

Visit the Join the Voices for Recovery website and read the testimonials of persons in recovery. They report benefits such as the healing of relationships, a renewal of spirituality, the ability to continue education, maintain employment, and abstinence from criminal activity.

As more national and international exposure is given to the treatment of substance abuse and recovery, more of society is convinced that substance abuse is a disease that requires treatment.

However it should be noted that treatment and recovery are successful only if an individual receives support. The person in recovery requires the assistance of family, community, churches, self-help groups, governmental and non-governmental partners, to ensure access to the services necessary to rebuild his or her life and learn to “give back” to society.

In summary, prevention is one of the most powerful tools against any anti-social element, which in itself argues for its support. Treatment enables people to counter addiction’s powerful effects on the human brain and behaviour. Treatment provides addicts with the life skills that allow them to refocus their talents and efforts, regain control of their lives. Recovery is the continuity of the growth process, which allows not only addicts to then benefit but also the society in which they live.

Article courtesy of Cindy Dilbert – Social Worker, Department of Children and Family Services in collaboration with the Department of Counseling Services.


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