From Unchain Your Brain: 10 Steps to Breaking the Addictions that Steal Your Life by Daniel G. Amen and David E. Smith

How Addictions Steal Your Life

When you are chained by an addiction it affects every area of your life.  Addiction ruins lives, devastates families, destroys relationships, negatively impacts your career, decreases your ability to perform will in school, and causes health problems.  People with addictions are more likely to get divorced, less likely to graduate from high school or college, less likely to be promoted at work, and more likely to develop diseases related to their addiction.  Addiction also affects our society as a whole and burdens us all.  Here are some alarming statistics about the dangerous effects of addiction.


  • It is estimated that there were nearly one million drug-related deaths annually in the U.S., from 2004 to 2008.
  • Smoking is the number-one preventable cause of death.Being overweight or obesity ranks third on the list of preventable cause of death.
  • Obesity, often caused by an addiction to unhealthy food, costs our society over $145 billion annually.
  • Medical costs for an obese persona are 42percent higher than those of a healthy-weight person.
  • Morbid obesity is associated with more than thirty medical conditions and diseases, including increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and stroke.
  • Alcohol abuse is the seventh most common preventable cause of death.
  • We spend close to $500 billion alone on morphine addiction when you factor in healthcare costs, crime and criminal justice costs, accidents, and lost employment.
  • It is estimated that the cost of drug abuse has grown to approximately $1 trillion annually in America.

Addiction is far more prevalent than you might imagine and it can affect anyone—you, your spouse, your child, your best friend, your neighbor, you teacher, your coworker, your plumber, even you doctor.  Just take a look a the latest numbers.

  • More than 23 million Americans age twelve and older are affected by substance abuse or dependence—that’s nearly one in ten Americans.
  • Nearly one in en adolescents between the ages of twelve and seventeen surveyed said they had used illicit drugs within the past month.
  • One in five drinkers reported drinking five or more drinks on at least one day in the past year.
  • More than 28 percent of youths aged twelve to twenty reported drinking the past month.  In some states, the number jumped as high as 40 percent.
  • Among underage drinkers, 19 percent identified themselves as binge drinkers and about 6 percent considered themselves to be heavy drinkers.  Among young adults and eighteen to twenty-five, more than 42 percent reported binge drinking, and nearly 16 percent reported heavy drinking.
  • Approximately two million adults meet the criteria for pathological gambling.  Another four to six million have serious problems with gambling.
  • One in ten people who pay video games shows signs of addictive behavior.
  • Ten percent of adults admit to being addicted to Internet pornography.
  • Between 2 and 8 percent of Americans have compulsive shopping addiction.
  • In the U.S., more than 47 million people are smokers.
  • In the U.S., two-thirds of people are overweight and one-third are obese.
  • About 62 percent of high-earning individual in the U.S. work more than fifty hours a week, which is the criteria for addition to work, 35 percent work more than sixty hours, and 10 percent work more than eighty hours.

1. Drug and/or alcohol addiction is surprisingly common. Approximately 1 out of every 8 Americans is living with some form of addiction. This includes drugs and alcohol. Since this figure only includes known cases of addiction, the true figure may be much higher.

2. Rates of addiction to drugs and alcohol are on the rise. The number of people who are living with some type of addiction has been increasing steadily over the past decade or two. This is hardly surprising, since almost 50 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 21 have admitted to using drugs and/or alcohol.

3. Approximately 15 percent of children under the age of 18 have admitted to experimenting with illegal drugs . These kinds of activities are on the rise, despite educational programs designed to help kids "Just say no" to drugs.

4. One-quarter of Grade 8 students admit to smoking marijuana regularly , and just over 30 percent of high school students smoke pot. The good news is that overall use of illegal drugs seems to be on the decline, but that doesn't mean there is not a significant problem with drug addiction.

5. Addiction to prescription drugs is a growing problem among young people . OxyContin and Vicodin are not illegal when prescribed by a physician. They are addictive, and have become increasingly popular among drug users. Using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes is being used at approximately the same rate as marijuana among people between the ages of 12-20.

6. Approximately 70 percent of people who are using illegal drugs are employed . The fact that they have a drug problem means increased costs to the employer in terms of absenteeism, decreased productivity and staff turnover.

7. Ninety percent of muggings and property crimes (theft) are related to drugs . 70 percent of all crimes involving violence were committed by someone under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

8. The average drug addict needs to come up with $200 per day to support his or her addiction . If an addict resorts to stealing to get money for drugs, he or she will need to steal approximately $1,000 worth of property to raise $200.

9. One-quarter of all hospital admissions are related to alcoholism . The total cost to society each year due to alcohol and/or drug addiction is estimated to be $250 billion per year.

10. Addiction to drugs and/or alcohol is a problem for approximately 30 million people in the United States alone . Addictions to these substances and the mental health issues that go along with them are one of the most serious health problems that are affecting modern society today.

11. There are more deaths and disabilities each year in the U.S. from substance abuse than from any other cause.

12. Untreated addiction is more expensive than heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined.

13. Every American adult pays nearly $1,000 per year for the damages of addiction.