We often hear of addicts' journeys leading to a stint in an rehabilitation facility or perhaps even multiple stints. But who goes to rehab and what does it say about our perception of addiction?
Rehab facilities, originally called "sober houses" and founded to create an isolated area removed from the temptations of substance abuse, are visited by a very small subset of the addicted population. In 2009, 23.5 million Americans were said to have needed specialized treatment for substance abuse, according to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration national survey. Of these 23.5 million, only 2.6 million received treatment -- 11.2%.
Demographically speaking, 20-59 year-old white alcoholics go to residential rehab. And we're not talking about celebrities who taut spa-like vacation experiences or prohibitively expensive options. Elite rehab facilities aside, publicly funded residential rehab facilities show eye-opening data, from the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
People who opt for rehab are alcoholics, predominately white and range across all ages. Marijuana users, too, represent a large portion of rehab pursuers, unsurprising considering the legalization battle and rise of medical marijuana prescriptions.
The alarming stat to me was that on opiates, or prescription painkillers. Only 5.9% of drug-related admissions in 2009 were opiate based, staggering considering the upswing in prescription drug abuse. Crack, stimulant (methamphetamine) and heroin all appeared in higher check-in percentages. Have we not yet realized that prescription drug abuse is a problem, or are those under the influence of opiates unlikely to elect for treatment? Perhaps, psychologically, it's easy to use chronic pain (real or imagined) as a crutch, whereas alcohol abuse is increasingly more difficult to forgive.