In October 2020, a New York bus driver was slapped with multiple criminal charges after it was discovered that she drove students while drunk and stopped at McDonald’s Corp. MCD to get breakfast.
That is just one of the many driving under the influence (DUI) and addiction incidents that grab the headlines in the United States and across the world. Impaired driving can cause accidents, which can lead to severe injuries like disfigurement, paralysis or death.
Luckily, that careless episode in New York didn’t result in any fatalities, but it could have been worse. Not everybody is that lucky.
Addiction can be debilitating and fatal, whether it’s an abuse of alcohol, cocaine, opioids or any other substance. In addition to the ravaging effects it can have on a person’s health and life, addiction can destroy marriages, friendships and careers.
What Is Addiction?
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment and an individual’s life experiences.
The ASAM said people with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.
The surge in the number of people suffering from addiction — particularly alcohol — in the United States is astounding. In 2020 alone, an estimated 1.6 million people 26 years and older received treatment for alcohol use.
Statistics On Alcohol Addiction And Abuse
According to the Addiction Center, alcohol, which can be detrimental to a person’s physical, mental and social well-being, is the most widely abused substance in the U.S.
- Every year, alcohol causes 5.3% of deaths (1 in 20) worldwide.
- About 300 million people throughout the world have an alcohol use disorder.
- On average, 30 Americans die in an alcohol-related car accident every day, and six Americans die from alcohol poisoning.
- About 88,000 people die as a result of alcohol every year in the United States.
- About 6% of American adults (about 15 million people) have an alcohol use disorder; only about 7% ever get treatment.
- Men between 18 and 25 are most likely to binge drink and become alcoholics.
Despite the alarming statistics, there are just a handful of substance abuse treatment facilities in the U.S. In 2020, there were 670 local, county or community government-run substance abuse treatment facilities.
Private health insurance is accepted in about 74% of the country’s substance abuse treatment facilities, while facilities under the federal government are less likely to accept cash payments.
With an estimated 1.6 million people 26 years and older receiving treatment for alcohol use in 2020, 57% of them did so through a self-help group.
Can Addiction Be Treated?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a treatable disorder. Research has led to the development of methods that help people stop using drugs, recover and resume productive lives.
Like other chronic conditions such as heart disease or asthma, there is no real cure for addiction, but it can be managed so people can regain control of their lives.
Overcoming Addiction With Wearables?
The need to curb the growing number of addiction cases, particularly alcohol, could present an opportunity for companies to expand into a new market area and help those in rehab overcome their addictions.
Companies like SOBR Safe Inc. SOBR (SOBRsafe), Honeywell International Inc. HON and Abbott Laboratories ABT have been advancing research and development aimed at stemming the tide of addiction and abuse.
SOBRsafe, which has commercialized a non-invasive alcohol detection and identity verification system, reports it is trying to create alcohol-free environments to increase productivity and save lives.
The company has launched scalable software for real-time, remote reporting and data management, and SOBRcheck™, a rapid and hygienic, touch-based identity verification and alcohol detection solution. SOBRsafe is now in revenue with over 600 subscribers under agreement.
In addition to its SOBRcheck device, the Colorado-based company is preparing to launch a second device — a wearable wristband SOBRsure that uses the same sensor technology and provides always-on mobile detection capabilities.
SOBRsafe is implementing its technology and devices in commercial vehicle fleets, manufacturing facilities, warehouses and construction sites - with strong potential for application in the DUI probation management arena. The company believes its wearable band will be ideal for alcohol rehab, last mile fleets and teen driver safety.
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