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The "Treatment Gap" for Addiction + The Impact on U.S. Church Communities

In 2013, an estimated 22.7 million Americans (8.6%) needed treatment for a problem related to drugs or alcohol. Of that 22.7 million, only about 2.5 million people — less than 1% — received treatment at a specialty facility.

This is what Robert Scholz, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, refers to as the "treatment gap."

Like most other issues, the church is not immune to addiction. But the church can be involved with helping those struggling.

Since addiction often starts in the teen years, Scholz recommends training youth and college ministry leaders to know how to respond to addiction-related concerns.

Acknowledge addiction during times of prayer or other opportunities. Offer support and prayer for individuals or families struggling, but know when you need to refer.

Finally, follow up with families you know are struggling with this topic. Recovery is a long process. If someone who has spoken about addiction publicly has a relapse, make sure they feel supported and know that they can come back to church.

In the end, the hope is that the treatment gap begins to close as normalizing talk about realities like addiction takes place.