Tennessee is no stranger to substance abuse, with the state ranking third in the country for prescription drug abuse. Studies have revealed that around 5% of Tennesseans have used painkillers for non-medical purposes, and more than 70% of those who use prescription drugs for non-medical reasons get them from a friend or family member. This has had devastating consequences in the state, including overdose deaths, rising hospital costs and emergency room visits, the detention of children in state custody, and incarceration for drug-related crimes. In order to combat this issue, prevention programs have been developed to reduce the number of people affected by substance use disorders.
These programs are tailored to different populations and audiences, and new and improved treatment approaches are being tested. Higher education institutions are also incorporating university recovery programs to help young people maintain recovery in an environment with high rates of substance abuse. It is essential to educate yourself and your children on the risks of substance use. Talk openly with your children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and learn from reliable sources about the substances they may be exposed to.
If students have problems with substance use, they can contact campus staff or visit Counseling Services. Research is needed to understand how brain changes related to substance use disorders occur, how individual biological and environmental risk factors contribute to those changes, or to what extent these brain changes are reversed after long periods of abstinence from alcohol or drug use. Long-term prospective studies on young people (especially those considered to be at higher risk) that simultaneously study changes in personal and environmental risks; the nature, quantity, and frequency of substance use; and changes in brain structure and function are also badly needed. The research should eliminate many of the deep-seated, but incorrect, stereotypes about substance abuse and substance use disorders.
It aims to understand and address the wide range of interacting factors that influence substance abuse and substance use disorders in different communities. Substance abuse and substance use disorders directly affect millions of Americans each year and cause car accidents, crimes, injuries, reduced quality of life, health problems, and too many deaths. Most doctors, nurses, and other health professionals who work in general health care settings have not been trained in screening, diagnosing, or treating substance use disorders. It is clear that more research is needed to understand how the use of these substances affects the brain and body, in order to help develop effective treatments for overdose, the control of withdrawal and addiction, as well as to explore possible therapeutic uses.