Robert Downey Jr. Eminem. Drew Barrymore. Kid Cudi. Zach Effron. Jada Pinkett-Smith. Brett Favre. Samuel L. Jackson. The retired teacher. The successful businessman. The teenager who lives down the street. The person with two homes. The person with no home. The mom who seems to have it all together.

If we review this list, it is probably easy to identify many differences among the group. What is most important though is what they have in common. What could a celebrity possibly have in common with your neighbor, or a person experiencing homelessness?

The answer is that all are equally susceptible to mental illness and addiction difficulties. In other words, addiction and mental illness does not discriminate. The celebrities listed above are just some of those who have shared their stories of recovery from a drug or alcohol use problem, or in some cases both addiction and mental health issues.

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The number of people negatively affected by drug or alcohol use

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 20.2 million Americans identify as a person in recovery from a drug or alcohol use problem, and 30.8 million Americans identify as a person in recovery from a mental health issue. When I reflect on these numbers as a therapist working in the field of addiction, a few words come to mind–Hope and Strength.

I think of Hope because these numbers signify suffering ending, families being repaired, and future memories being made. I think of Strength because it takes an incredible amount of strength to first recognize a problem and then be willing to do the hard work to address it–especially with an issue that still brings with it a lot of stigma.

March 21-27, 2022 is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. It’s a great time to reflect upon and celebrate the progress many people continue to make daily in their recovery from drug and alcohol abuse.

I have observed firsthand the impact addiction has on the person, their friends and family, and the community as a whole. Addiction and mental health issues are not problems that occur in a vacuum; it is impossible for others not to be affected by, or contribute to, the issue. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has identified that 1 in 2 Americans know someone impacted by addiction. With something so common, it is surprising that sometimes supports are not well-known.

Thankfully, a lot of support is available to help both the person experiencing the problem as well as their support system of loved ones. One of the most long-standing supports worldwide are 12-step programs. 12-step programs are mutual support groups for those experiencing addiction, or loved ones of those experiencing addiction. These programs are free to the community and available at varying times throughout the day.

Additional supports include:

Support groups specific for mental health issues also exist, such as NAMI support groups. If support groups don’t seem to provide enough support, there are also individual therapy, group therapy, outpatient treatment, and inpatient treatment. These resources are available for someone experiencing a substance use problem or both a substance use problem and mental health issue. At FCS, we are fortunate to be able to provide group therapy support for those experiencing both a mental health and substance use issue, as well as host a SMART Recovery meeting on-site.

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11 signs you may have a substance abuse problem

If you are wondering if your substance use might be causing you a problem, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Have you tried to cut back or stop your use and had trouble doing so?
  2. Do you regularly use more of an amount than you intend to? For example – “I am only going to have 3 beers tonight”…but you end up having 8.
  3. Do you have strong cravings to use that interfere with your daily life?
  4. Does using drugs or alcohol, taking time to get it, or arranging to get a supply take up a great deal of time in your day?
  5. Do you find yourself giving up things that used to be important to you in order to have time to use drugs or alcohol?
  6. Do you find yourself having difficulty achieving your goals at work, school, or at home since you have been drinking or using?
  7. Does drinking or using cause or increase depressive, anxious, anger symptoms, or make you feel paranoid?
  8. Does drinking or using drugs cause you to have new medical problems or make prior medical problems worse?
  9. Do you ever drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
  10. Does stopping alcohol or drugs make you feel sick?
  11. Does it seem like you need more alcohol or drugs to feel high compared to when you first used?

If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, it might be beneficial to talk with someone you trust in your support system and come up with a plan for help that is best for you. It can be intimidating and scary to take this first step, but it will be worth it. As the numbers have shown, you aren’t alone, things can get better, and there is always Hope.

If FCS is part of your journey, we can assure you Hope Starts Here. Please contact us if you are struggling with substance abuse, we are here to help.