Impact: What is the Impact of Addiction?

KEY FACTS

 

  1. Substance use can have an impact on health for the user, their social network, their community, society and the economy.
  2. According to studies involving clinical experts and scientists (Nutt et al, 2010) alcohol is considered to be the most harmful drug in its indirect effects involving other people followed by heroin and cocaine. On the other hand, alcohol is considered to be the third most harmful directly to the use after heroin and crack cocaine use.
  3. The impact of substance use may be reduced with early intervention (Dennis et al, 2004). Alcohol and other drug use is the principle contributor to disability-adjusted life years lost for young people (Mokdad et al, 2016).
  4. Early intervention may help minimize substance use disorder in adulthood, as 90% of adults with substance use disorder first used before the age of 18, and 50% started before the age of 15.

 

This section presents personal health impacts, global health impacts, economic impacts, other harms impacts, and the benefits of early intervention for substance use disorders.

PERSONAL HEALTH IMPACT

SOURCE: (Rehm et. al, 2004)


Other Harms Associated with High-Risk Drinking Include Increases In:

Psychomotor Impairment Cardiovascular Disease
Neuropsychiatric Conditions GastroIntestinal Conditions
Emotional Changes Infectious Disease (HIV)
Low Birth Rate in Children Maternal & Perinatal Conditions
Central Nervous System (CNS) Effects Acute Toxic Effects
Psychosocial Effects Accidents
Poor Impulse Control Self-inflicted Injury
Cancer Violence
Diabetes Overdose

 

GLOBAL HEALTH IMPACT

Substance use disorders account for a high amount of disease burden throughout the world. Neuropsychiatric illnesses are the largest contributors to the global burden of disease, among which substance use disorders make up the second largest proportion of this burden (4%) after depression. Alcohol is the leading risk factor for death for men of working age worldwide.

In the pie chart above, burden is measured in disability-adjusted life years lost (DALYs), which is calculated by the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or premature mortality. Alcohol and illicit drugs represent 2 of the 10 highest risk factors for disability-adjusted life years lost in higher-income countries (WHO, 2009).

SOURCE: (Prince et. al, 2007)


SOURCE: (World Health Organization (WHO), 2011)



ECONOMIC IMPACT

United States: Costs of Substance Use

In 2007, the direct and indirect costs of illicit drug use (excluding alcohol) were almost $200 billion. These numbers include costs associated with crime, healthcare and loss in productivity due to drug use.

These costs are greater than the direct and indirect costs attributable to diabetes, obesity and smoking (USDOJ, 2011). The costs attributable to alcohol is estimated to be an additional $224 billion (Bouchery et al, 2011).

 

SOURCE: (Bouchery, Harwood, Sacks, & Brewer, 2011; Mrazek, Hornberger, Altar, & Degtiar, 2014; USDOJ, 2011)


OTHER HARMS IMPACT

Harms to Those Who Use & Harm to Others by Substance Type

Alcohol is considered by experts to be the most harmful drug to other people (e.g., through assaults, domestic violence etc.) followed by heroin and crack cocaine.

In a study that had experts rate the amount of harm to the user and others caused by a variety of drugs, alcohol was rated as producing the greatest economic cost, injury and family adversity while heroin was associated with the most crime.  These factors were the largest contributors to the societal consequences of substance use (Nutt et al, 2010).

SOURCE: (Nutt et al, 2010)

REDUCING THE IMPACT OF SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS

The impact of Substance Use Disorder Can Be Reduced with Early Intervention in the United States (NDIC, 2011)

 

 

 

 

 

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