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Addiction Facts

The Boston Medical Center has created a comprehensive fact sheet on addiction and its overall impact. According to the Boston Medical Center:

Addiction Can Occur from:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Psychological factors (i.e., stress, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, personality and other psychiatric disorders)
  • Environmental influences (i.e., exposure to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or trauma, substance use either in the family or among peers, references within popular culture)
  • Starting use of alcohol, nicotine or other drugs at an early age

More than 20 million people in the United States now live with an addiction, costing more than $400 billion in health-related costs each year.

Who is Affected?

Everyone is affected by addiction. It is not a disease of the underserved, of those who encountered a rough patch in life, or the uneducated. It is affecting every socioeconomic bracket of our country, every neighborhood, and every ethnicity. Consider the following:

  • 21.7 million people aged 12 or older needed substance use treatment.
  • 2.3 million (10.8%) received treatment at a specialty facility in the past year.
    • *recipient of substance use treatment at a specialty facility is defined as substance use treatment a respondent received at a hospital (on as an inpatient), a drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility (as an inpatient or outpatient), or a mental health center. People are defined as needing substance use treatment if they had a SUD in the past year or if they received substance use treatment at a specialty facility in the past year.
  • In 2017, approximately 19.7 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year.
    • 74% of adults suffering from a substance use disorder also struggled with an alcohol use disorder.
    • 1 out of every 8 adults struggled with both alcohol and drug use disorders simultaneously.
    • 8.5 million American adults suffered from both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder.
    • 992,000 adolescents (ages 12-17) suffered from substance use disorder.
    • 5.1 million young adults (ages 18-25) battled a substance use disorder.
    • 13.6 million young adults (ages 26 and older) struggles with a substance use disorder.
    • $740 billion annually in lost workplace productivity, healthcare expenses, and crime related costs.
    • *the estimated number of people with substance use disorders are not mutually exclusive because people could have use disorders for more than one substance.

Overdose Deaths

The most dramatic metric of substance abuse – overdose deaths – is increasing rapidly.

  • Drug overdoses in the United States have quadrupled since 2000, driven by increases in the number of opioid overdoses.

*Information in the toolkit is adapted from the Boston Medical Center’s opioid resources*

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