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Substance Abuse: High Costs

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Substance Abuse: High Costs

October 02, 2008

An estimated 22.2 million persons aged 12 or older were classified with substance dependence or abuse problems in the United States, representing 8.9 percent of that age group, according to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Of these, 3.1 million had problems with both alcohol and illicit drugs, 3.9 million had problems with drugs, and 15.2 million were dependent on alcohol. For people who seek treatment, alcohol is by far the most common reason, followed by marijuana, cocaine, pain relievers, heroin, stimulants and hallucinogens. One promising trend is that U.S. government surveys found decreases between 2002 and 2008 in the percentages of youths who used marijuana, Ecstasy, LSD, alcohol, cocaine and cigarettes in their lifetimes, the past year, and the past month. However, illicit inhalant use held steady. The overall cost of substance abuse in the United States-including health- and crime-related costs and losses in productivity-exceeds half a trillion dollars annually, according to the National Institutes of Health. Updated March 2010

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