Addiction in the United States

Addiction affects more people in the United States than all other major illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and even cancer. As such, addiction stands at the top of public health concerns in America. Those who suffer from addictive disorders far outweigh those who have other major illnesses. Among addictions, the most common in the United States are Alcoholism (29 million affected), Drug Addiction (13 million affected), Sex Addiction (12 million affected), Nicotine Addiction (61 million affected), Food Addiction & related behaviors (66 million affected), and Gambling Addiction (18 million sufferers).  These numbers would suggest that over 220 Million Americans have addiction problems which is certainly not the case. The actual population of addicts is indeed much smaller due to the fact that many if not most of these individuals have multiple addictions simultaneously.

The cost of addiction and substance abuse in the USA alone comes in at over $600 billion due to the combined effects of healthcare costs, lost productivity, and cost of crimes related to alcohol and substance abuse. Individual substance abuse cost is reported to hover around $193 billion for nicotine addiction, and healthcare cost is at $96 billion. The overall cost burdened by the U.S. economy due to alcoholism reaches a figure of $235 billion which costs healthcare $30 billion. Likewise, the burden of illicit drugs reaches the amount of $193 billion overall, out of which $11 billion dollars is spent on healthcare for addicts.

Other interesting statistics relating to addiction are as follows:

  • According to the data collected in 2008, out of the total percentage of people suffering from addiction, 59.8% were Caucasian, 20.9% were African-Americans, 13.7% belonged to Hispanic origin, 2.3% were Native American or Alaskan natives, 1% were Asian or Pacific Islanders and 2.3% were others.
  • For those who got treatment for addictive disorders, 14.8% were between the ages of 25-29 years, 14.4% between 20-24 years of age and 12.6% were between the ages of 40-44 years.
  • Among those who had alcohol related problems in the USA, 4.5 million were adolescents; such youth are the leading cause of alcohol related road accidents which is the leading cause of death in young Americans aged 15 to 24.
  • The population of USA comes to about 5% of the world’s entire population however 2/3rd of the total illegal drugs are reportedly consumed in this country.
  • In the ten years from 1995-2005, the patients treated for addiction to prescription pain killers increased by 300%.
  • More than 50% of Americans have a member in the family involved in either alcohol abuse or addiction.
  • In the USA, more than 100,000 deaths annually are attributed to abuse of drugs or alcohol. One in every four deaths in this country is linked to the use of tobacco, alcohol or illicit drugs.

These stats clearly indicate the addiction to alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs is one of the leading causes of death in the most developed nation on this planet.

Addiction not only has a negative impact on the health of those who are addicted person but also their family; for instance, it’s a known fact that children and adolescents exposed to an addiction-ridden environment are much more likely to be emotionally neglected and/or physically or sexually abused.

Youth involved in substance abuse very often have deterioration in their school performance and a much higher percentage drop out rates. These kids are also the ones who often suffer from infectious diseases and violence and end up with a much higher rate of teen pregnancies.

And, below are some more facts related to addiction and it’s negative impact on the society:

  • 90% of the property crimes and mugging incidents are related to drugs whereas 70% of violent cases are committed by individuals who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • 33% of suicides and more than 50% of domestic violence cases, road accidents and homicides are related to alcoholism.
  • 70% of people using illegal drugs have trouble in employment due to decreased productivity, absenteeism and work-related accidents.

Although addiction to illicit drugs is a serious issue, alcoholism remains to be the leading addiction in American society. Alcoholism contributes significantly to the three largest killer diseases in the world which are stroke, cancer and heart disease. More than 25% of all admissions in hospitals are connected to alcohol in one way or another.

Addiction is a very costly proposition for the society. It is estimated that a drug addict, on an average, needs $150 dollars daily to support his or her addiction. Often addicts resort to stealing to support their addiction. It is estimated that every American pays almost $1,000 annually in taxes for addiction damages. The data shows that untreated addiction is costlier than the expenses for diabetes, cancer and heart disease combined.