NATIONAL ADDICTION COUNSELOR'S DAY
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, over the course of this entire month we are celebrating National Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery Month, a time when we focus on the benefits of substance abuse treatment and highlight the hope of recovery for those in the grasp of drug and alcohol addiction. And today, September 20, we are focusing on the men and women who help guide people to recovery as we recognize National Addiction Counselor's Day. These professionals are unsung heroes who deserve our recognition, respect, and gratitude.
It is an unfortunate reality that substance abuse and addiction are pervasive in our country. Last year, over 19 million Americans used illicit drugs, 55 million had engaged in binge drinking, and over 16 million were considered heavy drinkers. These are staggering statistics. We have all known someone a family member, friend, or coworker who has or has had a drug or alcohol problem. Many of us have even spent time trying to convince a loved one to seek treatment, confident that a good treatment center and a qualified health professional would be able to restore hope to our loved one and help them into recovery.
Left untreated, addiction is a devastating disease which has far-reaching consequences. It exacerbates social ills including crime, disease, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, and a wide range of family problems. It costs society billions each year in health care costs, lost productivity, and property damage. It also costs lives and causes immeasurable amounts of grief and pain. But there is hope: drug and alcohol abuse are treatable problems. Addiction is a chronic relapsing disease and, as with other chronic relapsing diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma, there may not be a cure but there are a number of treatments to control the disease. That means that addicts are not sentenced to living their lives out of control; they can seek treatment with an addiction counselor or other health professional and take charge of their futures.
The people who treat this destructive disease are a dedicated, knowledgeable group of professionals who have committed themselves to a noble cause. They are a critical part of our Nation's health care system. Today there are countless sober individuals living happy, productive lives only because, in a moment-of-truth, a counselor was there and made the difference. Not only do these counselors assist in recovery but in prevention and intervention as well. Through training and experience, addiction professionals can help turn a life around and often even save it. And for the friends and family of a person struggling with addiction, counselors are an answer to a prayer, guiding their loved one to a life in recovery.
I ask all of my colleagues to join me today in recognizing the priceless contributions of addiction counselors, and giving them our gratitude. Their work to restore hope to shattered lives and broken families is invaluable. I applaud their work and hope that on National Addiction Counselor's Day they know how much they are respected and appreciated.