Laura Emery, Field Editor
If actress Lindsay Lohan and pop icon
Britney Spears have taught us anything in recent months, it’s that
addictions happen. Addiction doesn’t discriminate against age, gender,
or social status.
Substance abuse is the misuse of
alcohol, illegal and legal drugs and medications, and other mood-altering
substances. There are more than 17 million people in the
who suffer from alcoholism alone, and another seven million diagnosed with
a drug addiction in the last year. Furthermore, statistics reveal that
more people seek help for substance abuse (as a result of depression)
after major holidays than at any other time of the year.
Addictive behaviors, like substance
abuse, can quickly spiral out of control, tearing families apart,
destroying careers, dashing dreams.
Thousands of people — even those
with prestigious careers, loving families, and seemingly happy lives —
walk around every day bearing the scars and worries resulting from
difficult circumstances in their personal lives. The manner in which a
person handles these emotional burdens is dependent on the individual, and
the intensity of the problem.
For some, alcohol and drugs may seem
to be a method of escape, a way to temporarily numb the emotional pain.
But once addiction takes hold of its victim, it is usually downhill from
Watching someone you care about sink
deeper and deeper into the quicksand of their addiction is
heart-wrenching; the pain and frustration is experienced vicariously.
The pattern of self-destructive
behavior may not be obvious at first. Many substance abusers master the
“I have control over it” façade, manipulating their thoughts to
rationalize their behavior. Some may not even know they have a problem,
but the sickness becomes apparent to those who know them.
Eventually, the signs show.
Substance-abuse addictions don’t remain a secret for long. The seams
will unravel, slowly — and the cloak of secrecy will fall away,
revealing a vulnerable individual badly in need of help.
Because of the nature of substance
abuse, privacy and anonymity are two very important
factors to those seeking help for themselves, or for someone they care
If you or someone you love is
suffering from substance abuse, please get help. The World Wide Web is a
great initial resource for information-gathering and support, but it is
not a substitute for professional medical or psychological help.
Because of its legal availability and
worldwide social acceptance, alcohol is an easy drug for users to abuse.
Alcohol abuse, or alcoholism, is one of the most common and most costly
drug addictions throughout the world. The majority of those who consume
alcohol do so at least once a week, and, for most people, regular drinking
on a social level does not create a dependency on the substance. There
are, however, more than 17 million people in the
alone with an alcohol addiction.
This Web site contains a wealth of
information on alcoholism. Here, you’ll find information on the effects
of alcohol, methods of coping, recovery programs, how to find support for
families, college drinking, binge drinking, drunk driving, and treatment
The National Institute on Alcohol
Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Web site is packed with valuable information
on alcoholism. The NIAAA provides leadership in the national effort to
reduce alcohol-related problems by conducting and supporting research in a
wide range of scientific areas including genetics, neuroscience,
epidemiology, health risks and benefits of alcohol consumption,
prevention, and treatment. It also coordinates and collaborates with other
research institutes and federal programs on alcohol-related issues, and
translates and disseminates research findings to health care providers,
researchers, policymakers, and the general public.
This Web site for the National
Institute on Drug Abuse is a wonderful resource. It features a variety of
powerful drug facts, real stories about people suffering from the
addiction, and resources for parents and teachers. The National Institute
of Drug Abuse focuses on the science behind the drug abuse, and helping
those dealing with the addiction understand the scientific reasons for
their specific addiction.
than Just a Bad Day
In many cases, an individual becomes
addicted to alcohol or drugs in an attempt to numb feelings of depression.
Even if the individual conquers the addiction, the depression — the
underlying cause of the addiction — still remains. For help with dealing
with depression, help in identifying symptoms, and seeking treatment —
these Web sites are stocked full of valuable information.