Report: Alcohol Abuse and Illicit Drugs Costs U.S. $442 Billion Per Year

In This Article

Report: Alcohol Abuse and Illicit Drugs Costs U.S. $442 Billion Per Year

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released its first report on U.S. addiction entitled “Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.” According to estimates, alcohol abuse and illicit drugs now cost the U.S. about $442 billion each year.

Additional data shows that more than 1 in 7 Americans, age 12 or older, has misused alcohol or drugs in the past year. Around 88,000 Americans die each year due to alcohol abuse, and more than 47,000 deaths in 2014 were caused by drug overdoses. Of those, more than 28,000 deaths were related to opioid illicit drugs or prescription painkillers.

By Race and Gender

More men report abusing alcohol (68.6%) than women (62.9%.) More men also report abusing other substances (over 20%) than women (over 15%.)

White Americans abused more alcohol than any other demographic group (70.3%). American Indians and Alaskan Natives were the largest misusers of illicit drugs (nearly 23%.)

The Bigger Picture

The United States spends the most money worldwide on health care, yet ranks only 27th in life expectancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, substance abuse is the biggest single factor contributing to a decline in life expectancy among white Americans.

One may be reminded of a line from “Dust In The Wind” by Kansas – “…and all your money, won’t another minute buy.”

U.S. Attorney General Vivek Murthy:

“How we respond to this crisis is a moral test for America. Are we a nation willing to take on an epidemic that is causing great human suffering and economic loss? Are we able to live up to that most fundamental obligation we have as human beings: to care for one another?”

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

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