Facts About Substance Use

What is Substance Use, Misuse, and Abuse?

Substance use, misuse, and abuse represent pervasive and destructive behaviors that affect millions of individuals and families across the United States. Despite their widespread prevalence, these behaviors are often misunderstood and underestimated in their severity.

The Scope of Substance Use, Misuse, and Abuse

Substances, including alcohol and drugs, are widely used in the United States. Approximately 30 million people, about one in ten adults, face challenges with substance use. This statistic is compounded by the fact that millions more engage in risky patterns of use, setting the stage for potential substance-related problems.

The impact extends beyond the individual, affecting families and communities. More than half of all adults have a family history of substance use issues, and over seven million children reside in households where at least one parent struggles with substance dependence or abuse.

The Toll on Health
and Well-being

Substance misuse takes a heavy toll on various facets of a person’s life. From serious health complications to emotional instability, financial strain, and strained relationships, the consequences are profound and far-reaching. Consider these staggering facts about substance use:
  • Annually, 88,000 deaths are attributed to excessive alcohol use alone, making it the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for a loss of 2.5 million years of potential life annually.
  • Up to 40% of all hospital beds in the United States, excluding maternity and intensive care units, are occupied by individuals with health conditions stemming from substance use.

Health Risks of Excessive Substance Use

The health risks associated with long-term substance misuse are extensive and alarming. From neurological impairments to chronic diseases and social problems, the impact can include:

  • Neurological disorders like dementia, stroke, and neuropathy
  • Cardiovascular issues such as heart attacks, cardiomyopathy, and hypertension
  • Psychiatric disorders including depression, anxiety, and suicide
  • Social problems like unemployment, family discord, and violence
  • Unintentional injuries such as motor vehicle accidents, falls, and drownings
  • Increased risk for various cancers, liver diseases, gastrointestinal problems, and more.

Understanding Substance Misuse

Contrary to common misconceptions, substance misuse isn’t solely determined by the type or duration of substance use. Rather, it’s characterized by an uncontrollable craving that transcends willpower. Individuals with substance use disorders can find themselves in a cycle that often requires recovery treatment.