The need for drug addiction services and preventative education is great as drug abuse and addiction creates a heavy burden on our society. The statistics are staggering. According to NIDA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs is costly to our Nation, exacting over $600 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and healthcare.”
The reason early prevention and education regarding drug use matters is that most people use drugs for the first time when they are teenagers. More than half of new illicit drug users begin with marijuana. After alcohol, marijuana has the highest rate of dependence or abuse among all drugs. In 2012, 4.3 million Americans met clinical criteria for dependence or abuse of marijuana in the past year—more than twice the number for pain relievers (2.1 million) and four times the number for cocaine (1.1).
There continues to be a large treatment gap in the U.S. In 2012, an estimated 23.1 million Americans (8.9 percent) needed treatment for a problem related to drugs or alcohol, but only about 2.5 million people (1 percent) received treatment at a specialty facility.
In 2009, almost 1 million visits to the ER involved an illicit drug, either alone or in combination with other types of drugs. Researchers estimate that cocaine was involved in 422,896 ER visits, marijuana was involved in 376,467, heroin was involved in 213,118, stimulants, including amphetamines and methamphetamine, were involved in 93,562, and other illicit drugs—such as PCP, ecstasy, and GHB—were involved much less frequently than any of the drug types mentioned above.
The CDC reports that every day in the United States, 105 people die from drug overdoses, and another 6,748 are treated in the ER for drug misuse and abuse. Drug overdose death rates have steadily risen since 1992 with a 102 percent increase from 1999 to 2010 alone. There have been a recent rash of heroin drug overdoses, with heroin’s potency dramatically increasing over the past few decades. One of the precursors of heroin dependence seems to be non-medical prescription drug use. NIDA reports that 1 in 15 people who take non medical prescription pain relievers will try heroin within 10 years. Also, heroin ER admissions are increasing. In 2005 there were less than 200,000 ER visits related to heroin. By 2011 there were almost 260,000 ER visits.