By Nathan Miller

Addiction and substance abuse are considered to be in the forefront of mental health issues dealt with daily in the U.S.

Nathan Miller of Cumberland Mental Health, an agency of Volunteer Behavioral Health, a nonprofit that provides mental health services in 31 counties, said, “Troubles realized from addiction and substance abuse can be observed in local crime rates, in absenteeism and poor performance in the workplace, in domestic and family abuse, and in many other very prominent ways.”

Miller’s comments were made in relation to the month of May being nationally recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month.

Miller noted that in 2014, according to data provided by the National Institute of Mental Health, 20.2 million adults in the U.S. had a substance use disorder and 7.9 million had both a substance use disorder and another mental illness.

Tobacco, illicit drugs and alcohol head the list of products generally associated with substance abuse issues.

Tobacco can be smoked, chewed or sniffed. However, the most common way people consume tobacco is by smoking cigarettes.

Based on a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, research has shown that adults with a mental illness are more likely to smoke cigarettes than other adults. This is particularly true among people with major depression and those diagnosed with schizophrenia. It is estimated that people with psychiatric disorders purchase approximately 44 percent of all cigarettes sold in the United States.

There continues to be a growing concern about illicit drug use. Again, based on statistics in a 2014 report, the most recent to be filed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, some 27.0 million people aged 12 or older reportedly used an illicit drug in the past 30 days from when information in the report was gathered. According to the report, this percentage in 2014 was higher than those in every year from 2002 through 2013.

The illicit drug use estimate for 2014 was driven primarily by marijuana use and the nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers, with 22.2 million current marijuana users aged 12 or older and 4.3 million people aged 12 or older who reported current nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers.

Alcohol abuse and dependence affects virtually all ages with some beginning their dependency regiment even before their teen years.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration data for 2014 related to alcohol use showed that 60.9 million Americans were binge alcohol users and 16.3 million were heavy alcohol users.

However, the report concluded underage alcohol use (ages 12 to 20) and binge and heavy use among young adults aged 18 to 25 have declined, but continue to remain a concern.

In 2014, 22.8 percent of underage people were current alcohol users; 13.8 percent were binge alcohol users; and 3.4 percent were heavy alcohol users. According to the report, these percentages were lower than the percentages in 2002 to 2012, but they were similar to the percentages in 2013.

Among young adults aged 18 to 25, the percentages that were binge or heavy alcohol users in 2014 were lower than those in 2002 to 2012. Nevertheless, more than one third of young adults in 2014 were binge alcohol users (37.7 percent), and about 1 in 10 were heavy alcohol users (10.8 percent).

For more information about addiction and substance abuse or to speak with someone concerning this topic call 1-877-567-6051 toll free.

Volunteer Behavioral Health, a provider of prevention, treatment and recovery services in 31 counties in Middle, East and the Upper Cumberland regions of Tennessee, is a recognized leader in behavioral health care. For more information about VBHCS or the topic discussed in this article contact the agency at 1-877-567-6051 or visit the website at vbhcs.org.