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Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is an alcohol and drug use disorders —which include misuse, dependence, or addiction to alcohol and/or legal or illegal drugs—remain a major public health problem in the United States. The estimated cost of alcohol and drug use in the United States is more than $600 billion, and includes productivity, health, and crime-related costs.  Read More ›

Alcohol and drug use disorders —which include misuse, dependence, or addiction to alcohol and/or legal or illegal drugs—remain a major public health problem in the United States. The estimated cost of alcohol and drug use in the United States is more than $600 billion, and includes productivity, health, and crime-related costs.

How Common Are Alcohol and Drug Use Disorders?

More than 9 percent of the total population age 12 or older met the criteria for substance dependence or abuse in 2002.

An estimated 19.5 million Americans (8.3 percent of the population age 12 or older) were current users of illicit drugs in 2002, meaning they had used an illicit drug at least once during the month prior to being interviewed.

About 54 million Americans in 2002 (nearly 23 percent of the population age 12 or older) said they had participated in binge drinking (5 or more drinks on the same occasion) at least once in the last 30 days. Nearly 16 million said they were heavy drinkers (had 5 or more drinks on the same occasion on at least 5 days during the past month).

Who Is Affected by Alcohol and Drug Use Disorders?

Alcohol and drug use disorders can affect anyone. But those who are particularly vulnerable include people with a co-occurring mental disorder or those who have certain risk factors, including poverty or a family history of alcohol or drug use disorders.

Alcohol and drug use disorders affect not just the people who are in need of treatment, but also their family members (particularly the children of those affected), friends, co-workers, and others who interact with them.

Sources: The National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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