What is substance abuse?

Substance abuse is a national problem that shows no discretion and impacts everyone. It crosses all societal boundaries, impacts every ethnic group, affects every socioeconomic group, can happen to all ages and in all places, and has consequences that affect the physical, psychological and spiritual well being of that person. The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency estimates that about 18 million Americans have alcohol problems, about 5 to 6 million have drug problems, more than half of all adults have a family history of alcoholism or problem drinking, and more than nine million children live with a parent dependent on alcohol and/or illicit drugs. Every individual who is addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs directly affects at least 4 other people, including family, friends and coworkers.

The cost and consequences of substance abuse place an enormous burden on American society. Labeled the nation’s number one health problem, substance abuse strains the health care system, the economy, harms family life and threatens public safety. There are more deaths and disabilities each year from substance abuse than from any other cause. Substance abuse costs the American economy an estimated $276 billion per year in lost productivity, health care expenditures, crime, motor vehicle crashes and other conditions.

Research demonstrates that treatment for substance abuse works. Our current knowledge of the dynamics of substance abuse combined with modern diagnostic and treatment services enables people to recover and establish healthy productive lives. Not only does it save lives, it saves money. For every dollar spent on substance abuse treatment, seven dollars is saved in reduced health care costs. The saved cost in quality of life is immeasurable.



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