Lessons from Laura

Lessons from Laura

Addiction is All Around You

Lesson from Laura by Carolyn Bradfield

In January 2018, I wrote an article each day that focuses on the lessons I've learned from my daughter Laura who died from a drug overdose at age 29. She struggled with addiction for 15 years, an uphill fight for her and millions of others that often ends as hers did in a hospital room, connected to tubes, and slipping away from this world to the next.

People affected or touched by addiction are all around you.

The statistics from studies done 3 years ago give you a picture of what is happening in the United States, and certainly, the numbers are larger 3 years later.

  • 27 million Americans suffer from drug and alcohol addiction.
  • In the age range of 12-17, 1.3 million teenagers or 1 in every 12 teens suffer from addiction.
  • In the age range of 18-25, 1 in ever 6 individuals suffer from addiction.

How can you tell?

These addicted young people (and older people) are not all that obvious. They sometimes look like the addict that you would picture in your mind.....gaunt, dirty and with needle tracks in the arm. But more often they look like the people in the picture....Laura is on the right. When this was taken, she was already 3 years into the struggle. Can you tell just by looking?

  • Individuals diagnosed with depression have a 1in 10 lifetime risk of suicide.
  • Individuals with both addiction and depression diagnoses increase their suicide risk to 1 in 4.
  • The single biggest predictor of relapse in alcoholics is the presence of depression.

Then, I want you to consider the family members and friends who also struggle to try and help their loved one and whose lives are also turned upside down. If there are 27 million addicts, then take that number and multiply it by 5 or 6 to get a true picture of who has been affected. It's your co-worker, your neighbor, your vendor, your extended family who struggle to try and help the addict, who try and find treatment solutions, and whose lives are turned upside down. People affected by addiction are all around you.

Who is at fault?

And it's not uncommon for us to believe that if someone had only been a better parent, been tougher on drugs, had not enabled the behavior, that per- son wouldn't have become an addict or would have been "cured" by now. Nothing could be further from the truth. Addiction is a disease of the mind and the body's response to need and want the substance can start the first time one takes a drink, pops a pill, or smokes pot. It's very hard to treat as evident by the many, many treatment options that Laura tried with little to no long-term positive result.

My Takeaway

The effects of addiction are not only devastating to the individual with the disease but profoundly impact those around them. So, the numbers tell you that it is all around you. And if you want to know how it impacts us all financially, the cost of addiction in terms of healthcare, fighting crime and lost work productivity is $740B a year.

It's time for all of us to look more closely, to let people share their experiences without judgment, and realize that you need to be part of the conversation so we can use our creative minds and talents to address the epidemic on all levels. After all, it's all around you and very likely has already touched your friends, family, and co-workers.

InterAct LifeLine

InterAct provides technology for Virtual Care and Opioid Education Programs for use by treatment programs, state and local governments and non-profits.  Carolyn Bradfield founded InterAct LifeLine in 2018, shortly after her daughter overdosed and died.

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