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Addiction Should Matter to Policymakers

Addiction and substance use constitute the largest preventable and most costly public health problem in the U.S. More than 20% of deaths in the U.S. are attributable to tobacco, alcohol and other drug use. As a country, we fail to routinely screen for risky substance use and intervene as needed. Only about 1 in 10 people with a substance problem receive any form of care. Most treatment that is offered fails to meet quality standards. Because we fail to prevent risky use and treat substance problems effectively, substantial costs fall largely to the government. 

Government spending on problems related to addiction and substance use totals nearly $500 billion a year, almost $1,500 a year for every person in America. Of every state and federal tax dollar spent on the problem, less than 2 cents goes to prevention and treatment while 96 cents goes to managing the consequences of our failure to prevent and treat it. Take a look at our interactive map of state spending on addiction and substance use. 

Nearly 1/3 of all inpatient hospital costs are linked to addiction and substance use.
1 in 4 Americans who first smoked, drank or used other drugs before age 18 has a substance problem, compared to 1 in 25 Americans who first drank, smoked or used other drugs at age 21 or older.
85% of all inmates in the adult corrections system are substance involved, and 65% of inmates (nearly 1.5 million) have a history of alcohol or drug problems.

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