October Is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month
October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, a month-long observance that focuses on the role substance abuse prevention plays in promoting safe and healthy communities.
The Scope of Substance Abuse in America
Substance use, including underage drinking and the non-medical use of prescription and over-the-counter medications, significantly affects the health and well-being of American youth and people of all ages:
- In 2013, an estimated 8.7 million people aged 12 to 20 (22.7 percent of this age group) reported drinking alcohol during the past month. To put that in perspective, there are more American youth who have engaged in underage drinking than there are people living in the state of Virginia.
- Approximately 25 million Americans age 12 and older were current illicit drug users. The most commonly used drugs were marijuana (19.8 million current users) and non-medical use of prescription medications (6.5 million current users).
- More than 17 million Americans age 12 and older were classified with alcohol dependence or abuse.
- Heavy alcohol use can cause serious damage to the body and affect the heart, liver, nervous system, digestive system, and immune system.
- Alcohol was a factor in approximately 31 percent of deaths from motor vehicle crashes in 2012.
Stopping substance abuse before it begins can increase a person’s chances of living a longer, healthier, and more productive life.