5 things to know about drug and alcohol abuse in Southern Indiana

January 21, 2019

January 22-27 marks National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week 2019. Levois Davis, program manager at Clark Memorial Health, addresses some of the myths about substance abuse in our community.

 Most people tend to think that drug addiction is a choice or a “flaw in someone’s character.” Nothing could be further from the truth about addiction. Substance addiction is about brain chemistry. In the same way that we are all different in regards to having a predisposition for medical issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure, we are also different with respect to addiction issues. Some people have chemicals in the brain that make them more susceptible to addiction. While environment does play a part, it is thought to be a small part.

  1. Most people think that opioids and crystal meth are the most abused drugs in our community, but in fact, alcohol is the number one drug abused in America. It is also the most abused substance in our area by teens and young people. Ease of access and the fact that it is “legal” make many feel it is safe to use.

  2. The place most young people get their first opioid (pain pill) or benzodiazepine (anti-anxiety medication) is from a medicine cabinet. That’s why it’s important for parents to ask medical providers to prescribe the minimum dose of pain medication. It is then crucial for parents to dispose of any medication not used immediately after the prescribed time.

  3. Young people tend to think vaping, or inhaling the aerosol produced by an e-cigarette or similar device,  is harmless due to the product not being tobacco. But vaping can easily lead to smoking cigarettes or using other forms of tobacco, and it is also possible to be addicted to the nicotine used in vaping products.

  4. Drug and alcohol abuse lead to bigger problems in our community. Jail overcrowding occurs because most incarcerated individuals are there for drug-related issues such as using or selling drugs, shoplifting, or burglary. Drug-related violence also affects our area with everything from assaults to domestic issues due to intoxication on some type of substance. Mental illness issues also occur due to substance abuse.

 If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, Clark Memorial can help. Visit our Behavioral Health Services page to learn more. You can also find help through SAMSA, a federally funded program that lists more available resources in most communities. Call their 24-hour helpline for assistance at 1.800.662.HELP (4357). Self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are also available in most Southern Indiana counties. Simply call the local chapters to locate a meeting that is convenient.