If you have ever had a friend or family member who suffered from addiction, you have probably struggled with the idea of whether or not addiction is a disease. Like me, you have probably wondered why drugs or alcohol seemed more important to the addict than their family. You have probably blamed them for the substance abuse. You have probably been discouraged when it seemed they tried to rationalize things that made no earthly sense to anyone else. And, you probably got mad when you tried to confront them and they refused to listen.

According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction is a complex disease which changes the way the brain functions. This is especially important to understand when considering addiction in teens. The part of the brain that controls decision-making is not fully developed until the age of 26, helping to explain why already vulnerable teens are more likely to fall into the cycle of addiction.

Hometown Media Group is collaborating with Reid Health in the month of December 2017 to heighten awareness of drug addiction. This series will also focus on treatments showing promise in fighting the opioid epidemic – now declared a national health emergency.

As a nation, we are finally moving beyond the “talking” stage in addressing this crisis to a phase where money is being allocated to help individuals and families suffering from addiction. There is a great deal of work yet to be done, but read the Western Wayne News and Nettle Creek Gazette newspapers to learn more about initiatives underway, available resources, and how you can get involved to make a difference in the health and well-being of Wayne County residents and communities.

Addiction is a disease, and one that knows no socio-economic boundaries. It can, and does, touch everyone. If you feel this “disease” hasn’t impacted your life, you haven’t been paying attention.

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