Addiction Problems Among Women: KCBS-TV Special Features Dr. David Sack
A special two-part KCBS-TV Los Angeles news report titled “Many Housewives Struggle Silently with Substance Abuse,” which aired on February 15 and 16, highlighted the increasing problem of opioid abuse and alcohol addiction among women in the United States.
In part one, Leyna Nguyen of KCBS reported that a growing number of U.S. adults abusing opioids or alcohol are those you would least suspect of being drug addicts. Seemingly successful, responsible people — housewives, neighbors and upstanding community members — are secretly succumbing to highly addictive prescription painkillers.
“Addicts are great concealers,” said addiction psychiatrist David Sack, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Elements Behavioral Health, the owner of a family of drug rehabilitation centers across the U.S., including the renowned Promises Malibu and Malibu Vista for women. In an exclusive interview, Dr. Sack told Nguyen that addiction — to opioids and other substances — has become more prevalent in the U.S. in recent years and can happen to anyone. “A neighbor, friend, brother, sister or even a child … these are the addicts in America now,” said Dr. Sack. “Addicts are not necessarily the people living on street corners.”
Opioid Painkiller Abuse Is on the Rise
One Los Angeles woman who was interviewed for the story explained how opioid painkillers, initially prescribed to manage her pain from injury, soon became a crutch that she grew dependent on to get through hectic days of child care, housework and other responsibilities.
“People start taking opioids for pain, and then they continue taking opioids because life is a pain,” said Dr. Sack.
Nguyen reported that since 1999, sales of prescription pain pills have nearly quadrupled, and the number of deaths from opioid overdose has more than quadrupled. The CDC estimates that 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, and women are at high risk for developing addictions to pain pills. For many, an opioid addiction leads to a secondary addiction to alcohol, where “one glass of wine at dinner can turn into four.”
The women featured in the February 15 newscast received addiction treatment and are now living sober lives. The report pointed out that while women can fall more quickly into addiction than men, statistics show that once they receive treatment, women seem better able than men to maintain lasting sobriety.
Look for Early Warning Signs of Addiction
Part two of this report, “Treatment Options Help Housewife Addicts Pull Their Lives Back Together,” which aired on KCBS-TV on February 16, also featured comments from Dr. David Sack.
Reporter Nguyen emphasized that an alarming number of women are becoming addicted, and the trend is tearing families apart. But there are warning signs to look for. According to Dr. Sack, the sign that spouses or family members typically notice first is how “irresponsible” the addicted person has become. “What that usually means is that they are too high to take care of business,” said Dr. Sack.
Another warning sign is a change in sleeping habits. Unfortunately, early warning signs are often missed, and it isn’t until the situation reaches a crisis point that action is taken. “They are about to get fired, their spouse has packed their bags, they wreck their car on a tree — some crisis usually brings people to treatment,” noted Dr. Sack.
Getting the Right Treatment Can Turn an Addict’s Life Around
The news report highlighted Promises Malibu, a luxury rehab that treats many professionals and public figures as well as housewives, like the ones featured in this story.
“At Promises I had a therapist who was fantastic,” said one housewife who went to addiction treatment there. “She was a mom, too, so she understood where I was coming from.”
With comfortable bedrooms and beautiful surroundings, Promises looks more like a home than an addiction treatment center. In addition to talk therapy, clients receive acupuncture, neurofeedback and massage, which can help them deal with withdrawal symptoms. They receive psychiatric assistance to address any underlying mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
The women featured in the newscast shared that they were terrified and ashamed to seek treatment, but once they arrived at Promises, they soon realized they needed to stay there and stick to their treatment in order to get their lives back. “There was a really strong feeling of being safe here,” said one, who realized there was no shame in getting the help she needed to get sober, reclaim her life and rebuild her relationships.