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A Public Health Crisis

Substance abuse affects everyone

Drug abuse costs the United States economy over $600 billion dollars annually in increased health care costs, crime, and lost productivity, broken down as follows by type of drug:


  • Illicit drug abuse: $181 billion
  • Alcohol abuse: $235 billion
  • Tobacco: $193 billion

Beyond the raw numbers are other costs to society, including:


  • the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C either through sharing of drug paraphernalia or unprotected sex;
  • deaths due to overdose or other complications from drug use;
  • effects on unborn children of pregnant drug users; and
  • other effects such as crime, unemployment, domestic abuse, family dissolution, and homelessness.

For more information on drug treatment, see Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide.




(Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse website. Unless otherwise specified, NIDA's products are in the public domain and can be copied as a whole without seeking permission from NIDA.)

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