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Hello Idaho: Coping with issues of addiction

About 14% of Idahoans deal with some sort of a substance abuse problem, according to Dr. Dennis Woody, and only about half of those people are getting treatment.

BOISE, Idaho — A national survey from the Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration reveals thousands of Idahoans struggle with substance use and addiction.

Dr. Dennis Woody with Optum Idaho said several different factors can contribute to addiction.

“Addiction implies that someone is working or struggling with the issue on being dependent upon the use of some form of substance," he said. "So it’s generally a chronic disorder that has very strong overtones of biological, social, and environmental factors that can impact its intensity.”

Woody said about 14% of Idahoans deal with some sort of a substance abuse problem, and only about half of those people are getting treatment. He offered suggestions about how to speak to a friend or family member who is struggling with addiction.

“You want to show a genuine concern that you might have. If you’ve made an observation find an opportunity to talk privately with the individual and reflect that concern to them," he said. "I would say keeping your questions simple and to the point. You want to avoid any sort of accusatory tone or making them feel guilty about it, because you’re trying to inquire based on your worry for them. You want to offer reassurance that you will be there for them to help them get whatever care they feel might be appropriate for the issue."

Treatments including medication, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Contingency Management have all proven effective in helping people get drug or alcohol abuse under control, Woody said.

“Substance dependence is a treatable and resolvable issue," he said. "It takes some reassurance in the notion that there are lots of people here in Idaho who are well trained to provide those services.”

Woody suggests talking to your primary care physician if you feel you have a subtance use disorder. If you are a family member or friend worried about a loved one, you can visit the Optum Idaho website or SAMHSA .gov for resources.

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