The Plight of Those Living With Addiction

Drug overdoses claimed the lives of an estimated 64,000 people in the United States in 2016 alone, a spike of more than 22 percent compared to 2015. Experts believe that drug overdoses will remain the number one killer of people under 50 years old for years to come, especially with the rise of synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanyl.

These are truly staggering numbers, but it only covers part of the damage that drugs inflict on people every single day. It doesn’t cover the effect drugs have on people living with addiction.

The New York Times recently published an article titled “1 Son, 4 Overdoses, 6 Hours” that took a deep look into the story of one of the millions of families struggling with addiction in the United States.

The New York Times asked Patrick Griffin, the main subject of the article, how many times he thinks he’s overdosed over the 20 years that he’s been using drugs – he guessed 30. Experts said that this high of a number isn’t surprising for someone with such a long history of drug use.

“All of the Griffins speak of nonstop stress,” wrote Katharine Q. Seelye. They have lived through chaotic days: When the parents called the police on their children (both Patrick and his sister, Betsy, have been addicted to drugs); when Dennis, the father, a recovering alcoholic, worried that every thud on the floor was Patrick passing out; and when Sandy was, by turns, paralyzed with a common parental fear — that she had somehow caused her children’s problems — or was out driving around looking for them on the streets.”

Patrick is from New Hampshire, the state with the highest deaths caused by fentanyl overdoses per capita in the entire nation, with nearly 500 people dying in 2016 alone. The state’s government estimates that one out of every ten residents in the state suffers from addiction, and the financial burden that brings – lost productivity, the cost of criminal justice, and healthcare – is nearly $3 billion.

Patrick’s story is tragic, but it’s also strikingly common in the United States. Addiction to drugs and alcohol affects tens of millions of people in this country, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that drug and alcohol abuse costs approximately $520.5 billion per year in lost productivity, the cost of criminal justice, and health care across the nation.

Treatment, like the services we offer here at Turning Point, is often the best way to combat addiction. However, taking that first step and actively seeking out treatment can be incredibly difficult, especially for people who have struggled with addiction and relapse for years.

“I’m afraid I’m going to screw it up all over again,” Patrick said. “That’s what happens every time.”

He said he knew he was not a sympathetic figure, that people may look at his life and wonder why he cannot pull himself out of this hole, especially with so much family backing, Seelye wrote.

“I feel like I’ve got nothing to offer,” he said. “I’m depressed all the time, and I’m isolating myself. I don’t really know what sober people do… I don’t want people to pity me. But I don’t want to lie to people about my past, either. I have a hard time asking for help. I always say, ‘I got this.’ But I never got this.”

At Turning Point, we strive to offer people seeking help overcoming their addiction with the help and services they need. If you are looking for a treatment program, or if you want to learn more for a loved one, send us the details of your situation through our online form or give us a call at (973) 380-0905 to speak with a member of our staff today.


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