According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction refers to Substance Use Disorder (SUD) at the severe end of the spectrum. Substance use disorders, including opioid and alcohol use disorders (OUD and AUD, respectively), are now recognized as chronic brain diseases, with the potential for both recovery and relapse.
The impact of substance use disorders on daily life
Substance use disorders negatively impact physical and mental health, productivity at work, and lead to a reduced quality of life such as an increase in problems at home and school. High-risk behaviors, that are associated with substance use disorders, have been linked to increased crime, violence, healthcare costs, and the spread of infectious diseases (such as HIV and hepatitis C).
The economic toll of substance use disorders is staggering: the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates the ‘all in’ costs at more than $740 billion annually. Yet the societal impact of substance use disorders is even more disturbing: an estimated 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes each year, making it the third leading preventable cause of death. Incredibly, life expectancy in the United States has declined over the past two years, due in large part to a year-over-year increase in lives cut short by opioid overdose, estimated at approximately 70,000 Americans in 2022.