Written By: Pamela S. Hyde, SAMHSA Administrator
Entertainment news reports during the past week have centered the Nation’s attention on substance abuse, addiction, and the vital need for recovery by millions of Americans. Positive stories of recovery are all around us in everyday life, but it’s always tragic when someone’s life is cut short.
During these times it is important that we remember the success stories of those in recovery because they provide a truer perspective of the real hope treatment can provide, and can spur individuals, families and communities toward taking effective action to prevent and treat the disease of addiction.
Preventing and treating substance abuse has always been a cornerstone of SAMHSA’s work. In particular, SAMHSA collaborates with Federal agencies and public health officials around the country to address the challenging issue of prescription drug abuse in this country. In 2010, 20.4 percent of Americans aged 12 or older reported using a prescription drug for nonmedical purposes at some point during their lifetime, according to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The first priority is to educate people about the risk of prescription drug misuse, because while most people do use prescription drugs safely and appropriately, some people wrongly perceive the use of prescription drugs by someone or for some reason other than as prescribed to be safer than using illegal drugs. After all, people sometimes think, these drugs are prescribed by physicians, so they must be safe, right? This is a dangerous and sometimes deadly misperception.
We also know that most often, friends and relatives can sometimes, often unintentionally, become the source of prescription drugs for those who become addicted to them. That’s why all of us need to be the eyes and ears that help keep our loved ones, especially our young people, and our friends and communities safe.
If someone you know may be abusing or addicted to prescription drugs, speak up right away. Resources such as SAMHSA’s Treatment Referral Line, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD), or www.SAMHSA.gov/treatment are available to help anyone, at any time.