Substance use and other addictive disorders such as gambling result in tens of thousands of American deaths per year and billions of dollars in lost wages, crime and incarceration, healthcare and other social harms. Alcohol and tobacco lead the list in deaths and costs to society but at the same time they are socially acceptable and legal to sell, buy and use. The regulations of substance use and gambling varies widely by state, as do the services available to people seeking recovery from an addiction. Society, meanwhile, sends mixed messages to youth about the risks of addictive behaviors through media, advertising and role modeling. There is no single policy or practice that swiftly change things in the U.S., but one of the approaches I think is more effective is the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Individuals who use CBT to address irrational thinking have far better outcomes than those who do not. If you or a friend or family member is looking for help in addressing an addictive behavior, I encourage you to seek out a counselor who has a background in CBT and who will not use moral arguments or labels to make people feel like they are powerless or incompetent. Here is a video from SMART Recovery, a free CBT-based program that I highly recommend.
More information about Smart Recovery can be found here: www.smartrecovery.org/