If one looks up addiction statistics toledo, Ohio online, they'll find that the famed city has been particularly affected by the opioid crisis and high heroin usage, while cocaine users are on the rise. Yet despite substance addiction being so widespread, the people who suffer from it are still often depicted as degenerates or criminals. Part of treating substance addiction means understanding its nature, making stigma reduction a matter of utmost importance. If you live in Toledo (or anywhere else), here's what you can do to reduce the various misconceptions surrounding this issue.
Understand That Substance Abuse Is a Disease
While several drugs are illegal in Ohio, that does not mean people addicted to unlawful substances are malicious. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, drugs can create changes in a person's neurology, rewarding them for using certain substances with mood enhancing dopamine. Worse still, it also affects the brain's ability to combat the urge to take it again, and reduces the amount of dopamine released over time, often prompting the user to take more of the substance to reach that desired high. This means a person is not entirely in control of themselves when they take these substances, no matter how badly they want to be.
Read Articles About Addiction
Thanks to the Internet and mobile technology, informing oneself about a topic is easier than ever. Take the time read about the nature of substance addiction by consulting reliable web sites from trustworthy health organizations and government web sites. Reputable resources include WebMD, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and American Addiction Centers. News sites also often publish trustworthy information about addiction, but avoid sources that sensationalize or have a heavy bias.
Learn the Difference Between Addiction and Substance Abuse
Though often treated as the same thing, the two are not identical. According to WebMD and several other sites, most people who deal with substance abuse are still able to make the choice to stop, while those dealing with addiction are unable to, even when the substance is causing them harm and destroying their personal life. Neither should be demonized, however, and you should approach anybody dealing with these issues with patience and compassion.
Become a Volunteer or Advocate
While informing yourself about addiction is critical, what may be even more helpful is sharing what you've learned in the world. Get in touch with local addiction centers in Toledo and see if you can volunteer as a speaker; if you are personally recovering from uncontrolled substance use, hearing about your journey will not only inspire others like you, but also make non-addicts understand the struggles you have faced.
Talk to People Who Suffer from Addiction
To truly understand the struggle of a person with addiction, it's sometimes best to hear it in their words. Talk to people you know who struggle with substance usage, and if you're volunteering at an addiction center, listen to the stories of the people who reach out to you for help. There are also a number of reliable online chat and message boards, such as SMART Recovery Online and HealthfulChat, where you can talk directly with people on the road to addiction recovery.
Write About Addiction Online
One of the easiest ways to transmit information to a wider audience these days is through the World Wide Web, making it an ideal medium to educate others on the nuances of addiction. Sites like HubPages and Medium are powerful online writing sites that are free to use and heavily trafficked, for example, and professionals in dealing with addiction also often write articles on blogs or on their LinkedIn page. A word of caution, however: do not write about addiction issues unless you are absolutely certain you have expert-level knowledge on the subject, as misinformation can steer people on the wrong path and even make addictions worse. Research carefully before writing anything, and keep checking and double-checking what you've written until you are 100 percent certain you have gotten the facts correct.
To truly beat addiction, you must also teach people how to view it correctly. Educate yourself, spread the word, and if you find yourself in an emergency involving substance abuse, you can contact SAMHSA's 24/7 National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).