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Statistics on Drug Abuse and Alcohol Addiction

These problems are more common than people may think

There is a lot of data and statistics out there in regards to drug abuse and alcohol addiction, from the national costs to overdose rates.  It is important to understand these statistics as more than statistics – these are real people with difficult struggles.  You may in fact know someone that is having a drug or alcohol issue, so understanding these statistics is important to knowing the risks involved and creating a proactive plan for you or those you love.

The Cost

The cost of drug and alcohol abuse is a major part of national healthcare expenditure, with alcohol costing $30 billion and drugs costing $11 billion.  If you include crime costs and lost productivity costs, those numbers increase dramatically: alcohol costs $235 billion and drugs cost $193 billion.

Billions of dollars are being put into resources for a preventable problem – unfortunately, there haven’t been any dramatic decreases in drug or alcohol abusers, and the costs seem to be rising from year to year.

Youth Statistics

While there may not be promising results from surveys and research in adult drug and alcohol users, there is generally good news for youth.  2014 saw a decline in over the counter and prescription drug abuse in youth.  The most significant drop was in the use of Vicodin: 2014 statistics reported that around 5% of high school kids used Vicodin recreationally, down from 10% in the previous year.

Statistics are also very promising with drinking. There is a major trend of reduced drinking in high school aged children, and that trend is predicted to continue into the near future.  Binge drinking also dropped from 2013 to 2014.  The percentage of high school seniors who binge drink is under 20% - the peak was 32% in 1998.

Cigarette smoking is at its lowest rate in recent history, and has reduced by as much as 50% in the past five years.  The average percentage of daily cigarette smoking in teenagers is around 5%.

Illicit drug use has also been on the decline in the past few years, and despite the increased use of heroin in adults 26 and older, its use has been declining in teenagers.

While there are great statistics on drug use in teens, there are also areas that are cause for concern.  Many teens report that common drugs such as marijuana are very easy to come by. While it is easy to get these drugs, there is a marked decline in marijuana use in high school students in the United States. Many teenagers believe that regular use of marijuana isn’t unhealthy, so the number of high school users may increase in the near future if that attitude trend stays the same.

There has been an alarming increase in the use of electronic cigarettes in teenagers, with around 17% of high school seniors regularly using them.  While the tobacco in electronic cigarettes is inhaled differently than traditional cigarettes, the long term health impacts of electronic cigarettes are still unclear.

Adult Statistics

Statistics on adult drug abuse and alcohol addiction are less promising than the youth statistics.  In fact, over 50% of people over 26 years old have reportedly used illicit drugs at some point in their lives.  Over 87% of people 26 and older reportedly drank alcohol at some point in their lives.  These numbers are much higher than many people may think, and with so many people using drugs and alcohol, the more cases of drug abuse and alcohol addiction will arise.

Overdose Rates

There has been an alarming rise in overdose deaths in many categories of drug use.  In 2011, almost 18,000 people died from overdosing on prescription drugs – this was three times the number reported in 2001.

2011 also saw a dramatic increase in deaths caused by heroin overdoses.  Almost 5,000 people died from heroin overdoses, which is almost twice the number reported in 2010.

Treatment Options

If you or someone you know has a problem with drug abuse and addiction, it is vital to get help as soon as possible.  At Meridian Health Solutions, we provide the care and expertise that you need for a successful recovery.  We provide the structure and support needed for recovery, and have personalized treatment options that fit each individual patient.

Whether you’re struggling with drug use or alcohol problems, our staff is ready to put you on the path toward recovery.  We have a strong community of people with similar stories that you can rely on for help and guidance during these difficult times.  Don’t wait for treatment – the longer you wait, the more problems can occur from excessive drug use.  It’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible in order to ensure the best possible recovery outcome.

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