What You May Not Know About Addiction


Recovery is possible and real. Addiction is a chronic, progressive and sometimes fatal disease. Relapses can occur, so more than one treatment episode may be required, before full recovery is established. Recent studies show for those who engage in a recovery process for more than a period of six months, the treatment is successful for 40-70 percent of patient/clients. Cocaine treatment is successful for 50-60 percent and opiate treatment for 50-80 percent.

Addiction can effect anyone. Men and women of all ages, of every racial and ethnic group, of every level of education; drink, smoke and use illicit drugs. Recently, a study showed approximately 13.6 million Americans were current illicit drug users and nearly 113 million Americans had used alcohol in the past month.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), a serious disorder affecting brain function, is the leading preventable birth defect in the US, with an incidence estimated between 0.5 to 3.0 cases per 1,000 births. A larger number of people, who do not express the facial features required for a FAS diagnosis, nonetheless experience alcohol-related neurobehavioral deficits caused by prenatal alcohol exposure.

Addiction is preventable. Addiction directly causes more deaths, illnesses and disabilities than from any other preventable health condition. More than two million US deaths, or one out of four deaths each year, is attributable to alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use; with 100,000 deaths for alcohol and nearly 16,000 for illicit drugs. Alcohol is the third leading contributor to mortality-related-to-lifestyle in the US.

Addiction is more prevalent than you think. Of the US adult population (98 million persons aged 18 or older), nearly 53 percent have a family history of alcoholism or problem drinking. Twenty-two million Americans suffer from addiction. 19.5 million use illicit drugs, 54 million participated in binge drinking in the past 30 days and 15.9 million are heavy drinkers. Almost 14 million US adults meet the medical criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse or alcoholism. Over 30 percent of high school seniors engage in “binge” or heavy drinking. Of children under 18, approximately 6.6 million live in households with at least one alcoholic parent.

Treatment reduces crime. It has been shown addiction treatment reduces criminal activity by 80%, and in some hard to reach populations, reduction can be up to half. Treatment markedly increases employability and decreases homelessness and risky sexual behaviors, which result in substantially improved physical and mental health.

Too many do not receive help. The human cost of addictions is measured in lost jobs, lost families and lost lives. Economic losses associated with addiction are estimated at around $110 billion. Recent figures show that five million of the 6.1 million people needing treatment for their addiction never received help.

The heavy burden of addictions. Costs associated with alcohol-related traffic crashes, the fifth leading cause of death for Americans of all ages, account for nine percent, as do costs associated with criminal activity. Almost 39 percent of these costs were spread across the US population in the form of increased burdens on government budgets.

What is addiction’s price? A study was conducted to determine how much money is spent on illegal drugs that otherwise would support legitimate spending or savings by the user. It was found that Americans spent $57.3 billion on drugs; an estimated $38 billion on cocaine, $9.6 billion on heroin, $7 billion on marijuana and $2.7 billion on other illegal drugs and on the misuse of legal drugs.

Making treatment available for all. Polls show that more than half of Americans strongly believe drug treatment should be more available, and about half of those polled also agreed that treatment and rehabilitation programs usually work.

Addiction is a disease and can be treated effectively. The improvement rate for people completing addiction treatment is as effective as treatments for other chronic, relapsing health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma.

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