The newly published report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia) has declared what folks who have lost a loved one to a substance use-related death already know: the price of risky drug and alcohol use and/or addiction is terrible and high.
CASA Columbia’s report reveals that at least 578,819 deaths in the U.S. in 2009 were related to these issues. That makes risky substance use and addiction the top causes of preventable death in the United States.
The report estimates that more than 20% of deaths in the United States are linked to alcohol, tobacco or other drug use. Tobacco is the biggest culprit, but overdose deaths are up five times since 1990. The report also indicates the mind-boggling cost of these public health issues: an estimated $468 billion of government dollars annually, although only a fraction of this money is spent on treatment. Legal, financial, abuse, neglect and unintentional accidents, violent crimes and compromised health are all additional costs of these epidemics.
Only 1 in 10 people with addiction issues (other than nicotine) actually report getting treatment. As a country, we don’t even count the number of people with nicotine addiction who seek treatment. As Dr. Lloyd I. Sederer, MD writes in his Huff Post article on 6/26/12 on this topic, “Can you imagine that measure of neglect were the conditions heart or lung disease, cancer(s), asthma, diabetes, tuberculosis, or stroke and other diseases of the brain?”
CASA Columbia’s report, a hefty 586 pages, available here, makes many important points that Americans who want a healthier nation should consider. Here are just a few:
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Note: No post of Walden (Walden Behavioral Health’s) Behavioral Health Blog is to be considered medical or therapeutic advice.