According to the National Institutes of Health, 75 percent of people who need help with substance use disorders (SUDs), don’t get treatment – often due to shame and stigma. When you consider that, per The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 20.7 million Americans, or approximately 8 percent of the U.S. population, need (SUD) treatment, you can see how critical it is that we remove the stigma surrounding SUD.

Substance use disorder (SUD) is an illness. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Substance use disorders are characterized by an array of mental, physical, and behavioral symptoms that may cause problems related to loss of control, strain to one’s interpersonal life, hazardous use, tolerance, and withdrawal.” However  many people view SUDs as a weakness and something that, with discipline and willpower, can, and should, be overcome. 

Substance use disorder is also widespread, and when left untreated, SUDs impacts all of us. For our healthcare system, people with untreated SUDs represent a substantial burden. That’s because people with untreated SUDs are twice as likely to be admitted to emergency departments as people who do not have the disorder. Furthermore, untreated SUDs often lead to an occurrence of chronic health conditions and poorer health outcomes for individuals. For American businesses, the impact of lost productivity due to SUDs has been projected to be $180 billion annually and contributes to rising healthcare costs. And for society in general, alcohol played a role in 2.6 percent of all deaths in the United States in 2017, the last year for which we have complete data.

We know that telehealth, for many reasons, is one of the most effective ways to reach and treat  people with SUDs. It’s also one of the most effective ways to support life in recovery. One of the reasons for its effectiveness is it removes some of the barriers related to stigma. 

Online recovery is private. With a telehealth solution, people can seek and receive treatment from the privacy of their home. Getting help for alcohol or drug addiction takes courage. Receiving treatment from a private, comfortable and familiar setting, reduces a major barrier to seeking help.  People with SUD no longer need to worry about stigma at work or stigma in their communities.

We all need to do our part to reduce the stigma around SUD. Education helps as does access to flexible, private online solutions. Want to learn more?  Contact us: 800.258.6550.