Abuse and addiction to alcohol, nicotine and illegal substances cost Americans nearly one trillion dollars a year in medical costs, lost wages, and criminal proceedings. There is no way to measure the social impact and the damage that abuse does to families living with addiction. In addition, every year more than 100,000 American deaths are related to illicit drugs and alcohol and 440,000 deaths are linked to tobacco use.
The National Institute of Drug Addiction (NIDA) has a downloadable 30-page full-color booklet that explains in layman's terms how drug addiction is a brain disease that affects behavior, versus being a moral flaw. One of the goals of this publication is to reduce stigma against addictive behaviors, and help people understand why people become addicted and how drugs change the brain to foster compulsive drug use.
This booklet discusses reasons people may begin to take drugs, why only some people become addicted, how drugs work in the brain to reduce a person's ability to make sound decisions and use self-control, and how addiction is treated. By treating addiction like any other chronic disease that can be successfully managed, this booklet helps people understand how, with ongoing treatment, people can regain control of their lives.