How Big is the Problem?
- Over 24.6 million Americans use illicit drugs or abuse prescription medications each month. (NIDA)
- Since 2000, half a million lives have been lost to opioid drug overdoses. (CNN)
- Heroin-related death rates increased 26 percent from 2013–2014, totaling 10,574 deaths in 2014. C(DC)
- The estimated cost of drug and alcohol abuse is 700 billion dollars a year. (NIDA)
- Nearly 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States. (NIH)
- In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities). (NIH)
- Last year, 47,055 people died from drug overdoses — 1.5 times greater than the number killed in car crashes. (CNN)
- Opioids are involved in 61% of all drug overdose deaths. (CNN)
- The biggest increase in deaths was from from synthetic opioids, which went up 80%. (CNN)
- Drug use is increasing among people in their fifties and early sixties. (NIDA)
- Most people use drugs for the first time when they are teenagers. There were just over 2.8 million new users of illicit drugs in 2013, or about 7,800 new users per day. Over half (54.1 percent) were under 18 years of age. (NIDA)
- More than half of new illicit drug users begin with marijuana. (NIDA)
The statistics above tell the story of the drug epidemic that is sweeping our country. No community, family, socioeconomic class is untouched. Drug abuse cuts a reckless path of destruction through the lives of individuals and their families. It distracts from education and spoils opportunities for the future. It wrecks health, careers and finances. It devastates family relationships and robs the substance abuser of the ability to reach their God-given potential in life. Alcohol and drug abuse causes more damage than any other single problem in America today. It is an enormous issue, but there is hope.
Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in America, by both adults and teens. One in every 12 adults, 17.6 million people, are alcohol dependent. By 8th grade, 25% of students have been drunk, and by 12th grade, that number climbs to 62%. Because teens drink and drive, car accidents are the number one cause of death for 15-20 year olds. Among college students under age 21, there are 50,000 alcohol related date rapes, and 430,000 assaults by students who have been drinking. More than 7 million children are abused or neglected because they live in a home where at least one parent is an alcohol abuser.
The Boston Globe reported on January 7, 2015 that 6 Americans a day die from alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning occurs when large amounts of alcohol are consumed over a short period of time. The rates are highest among middle-aged men. According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,221 people died from alcohol poisoning between 2010 and 2012. The death rate was highest among men aged 45 – 54. The report described death from alcohol poisoning as “a bigger problem than previously thought.”
Alcohol affects every organ in the drinker’s body and can damage a developing fetus. Intoxication can impair brain function and motor skills; heavy use can increase risk of certain cancers, stroke, and liver disease. Alcoholism or alcohol dependence is a diagnosable disease characterized by a strong craving for alcohol, and/or continued use despite harm or personal injury. Alcohol abuse, which can lead to alcoholism, is a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, or ability to work. Excessive drinking both in the form of heavy drinking or binge drinking, is associated with numerous health problems, including:
- Chronic diseases such as liver cirrhosis (damage to liver cells); pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas); various cancers, including liver, mouth, throat, larynx (the voice box), and esophagus; high blood pressure; and psychological disorders.
- Unintentional injuries, such as motor-vehicle traffic crashes, falls, drowning, burns and firearm injuries.
- Violence, such as child maltreatment, homicide, and suicide.
- Harm to a developing fetus if a woman drinks while pregnant, such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Alcohol abuse or dependence.
For more information on alcohol abuse, visit these sites:
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Alcohol and Drug Education
Teen Challenge outreach programs provide alcohol and drug prevention efforts in needy communities working with at-risk youth. Making Good Decisions is another effective prevention program presented in public and private schools. For more information, contact the Teen Challenge closest to you.
Throughout New England and New Jersey, Teen Challenge is also the largest distributor of government-provided alcohol and drug information through its Drug Awareness Teams.
References for other drug information and statistics are provided at these sites: