Substance Abuse: A Treatable Public Health Issue

Twenty-two million Americans struggled with a drug or alcohol problem in 2005. In 2014, close to 50,000 people died from a drug overdose. With many cumulative consequences, the widespread issue of substance abuse has public health implications for communities, regions, and nations.

Some of the public health implications of addiction include:

Teenage pregnancy

Adolescents who use substances are more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy. Their children then face an increased risk of exposure to addictive substances. Among other negative consequences, unplanned pregnancies are associated with pregnancy complications, poor child development, and child abuse and neglect. Public costs of unplanned pregnancies include those related to health care, foster care, and more. 

Human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS)

Injection drug use as well as other forms of drug and alcohol use can increase one’s risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. While needles used to inject drugs can transmit bodily fluids, any drug and alcohol use decreases inhibitions which can lead to risky sexual behavior. Both circumstances carry risks of contracting HIV/AIDS. For those who already have HIV/AIDS, drug and alcohol use can exacerbate symptoms of the conditions.  

Domestic violence

Half of men who engage in domestic violence also have substance abuse problems. Additionally, many individuals convicted of domestic violence were raised by parents who abused substances. Furthermore, women who struggle with substance abuse face an increased risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.

Motor vehicle crashes

The dangers of drug and alcohol-impaired driving include reckless driving, car crashes, and fatal accidents. In 2018, 20.5 million people drove under the influence of alcohol and 12.6 million drove under the influence of illicit drugs. Drug and alcohol-related fatalities were involved in 44% of all fatal car crashes.


By viewing substance abuse as a health problem, those struggling with addiction may be more encouraged to seek medical treatment. Addiction is highly treatable, so much so that treatment can reduce substance use disorder by 40 to 60%, while also improving employment opportunities by 40%. At a fraction of the cost of incarceration, treatment also reduces overdose and relapse rates.


Wasatch Crest’s addiction treatment programs in Heber, UT envelop clients with specialized care, compassion, and community. Retreat to our campus surrounded by the Wasatch mountains for a healing, alpine getaway that empowers you to achieve lasting sobriety. Reach out to learn more about our residential and outpatient addiction treatment programs

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