Alcohol has been shown to statistically cause more teenage fatalities than all other drugs put together.
Because alcohol has been shown to be strongly correlated with the three leading causes of death among young adults – suicide, murder, and accidents , such as car accidents – the threat that alcohol poses to young populations needs to be taken more seriously.
The health care costs of both drug and alcohol abuse are staggering as well. The National Institute of Drug Abuse found that alcohol abuse costs $27 billion every year in health care costs and drug abuse collectively costs $37 billion for illicit and prescription drug abuse combined. Those numbers are worrying.
More worrying still is the fact that these numbers are only a drop in the bucket compared to the overall costs that alcohol and drug abuse take on a nation in terms of lost productivity, increased crime, and as already alluded to skyrocketing health care costs.
When you add up these three costs (lower productivity, higher crime, and higher health care costs) you’re talking about nearly a quarter-trillion or $249 billion annually for alcohol abuse and over a quarter trillion for illicit and prescription drugs combined.
The Monitoring the Future study’s results show some promising trends as well as areas for continued concern with respect to today’s youth and tomorrow’s future. Alcohol use among 12th graders, for instance, has gone down about 7% over the last 3 years whereas illicit drug use has pretty much stayed steady with about half of 12th graders indulging in illicit drugs.
Fortunately, the number of 8th graders choosing to partake in alcohol use has gone down since 2013 when it was 27.80% – today that number is 22.80%, which means that fewer than one in four 8th graders is choosing to use alcohol. The number of 12th graders using marijuana, though, has remained fairly constant at around half (~48%) over the last three years.
The frightening reality for many substance abuse, mental health experts, politicians, and concerned parents is that youngsters that drink are more than 7 times more likely to partake in other illicit drugs. And get this: A kid who drinks who 50 times more likely to use cocaine illicitly and on a recreational basis than another kid who abstains from alcohol altogether through his or her middle school, high school, and early adult years.
Recent data shows that among the nearly 4 million people who were treated in 2005 for substance abuse a full 2.4 million were also treated for alcohol abuse. That’s because there’s a big comorbidity (or co-occurrence) between the two kinds of abuse. There also happens to be a big correlation between drug abuse, alcohol abuse, anxiety disorders, and depression.
This is still a chicken or the egg question that psychologists and mental health professionals are trying to work out but it’s currently believed that anxiety disorders, major depression, or bipolar disorder could predispose certain people to start using certain illicit substances and alcohol in order to self medicate. This is never appropriate and a mental health professional and substance abuse counselor should always be called in to help.
Help is needed more desperately than ever because more Americans are falling prey to drug and alcohol abuse. Worryingly, a full 40% of violent crime has been associated with alcohol use, according to the United States Department of Justice. In a single year (2007) alcohol-related traffic fatalities topped 10,000 people. That’s more than should ever succumb to these kinds of accidents.
If you or a loved one are struggled with drug abuse or alcohol abuse contact a substance abuse counselor today for help.