About Addiction

Addiction is the most pressing public health crisis of our time. It is a chronic, medical condition that can impair health and function and is characterized by repeated use of a substance despite harmful consequences. Prolonged substance use can cause changes to the brain, making it important to get someone with unhealthy alcohol or drug use into treatment as quickly as possible. People with substance use disorders often have other chronic health conditions, and they can be made more difficult to treat because of substance use. There is effective treatment available for substance use disorders and most people with substance use disorders do recover.

Addiction Can Occur From:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Psychological factors (i.e., stress, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, personality and other psychiatric disorders)
  • Environmental influences (i.e., exposure to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or trauma, substance use either in the family or among peers, references within popular culture)
  • Starting use of alcohol, nicotine or other drugs at an early age

More than 20 million people in the United States now live with an addiction, costing more than $400 billion in health-related costs each year. At BMC, we care for thousands of individuals with addiction each year. In fact, 34% of individuals transported by Boston EMS for drug-related illnesses are brought to BMC for care.

Who is Affected?

Everyone is affected by addiction. It is not a disease of the underserved, of those who encountered a rough patch in life, or the uneducated. It is affecting every socioeconomic bracket of our country, every neighborhood, and every ethnicity. Consider the following:

21.7 million people aged 12 or older needed substance use treatment. 2.3 million (10.8) reecieved treatment at a specialty facility in the past year.

In 2015 approximately 20.8 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year. Opiod Overdose Drug overdoses in the United States have quadrupled since 2000 driven by increases in the the number of opiod overdoses.

Illicit Drug Use - About 1 in 10 Americans used an illicit drug in the past 30 days.
Tobacco Use - Nearly 1 in 4 Americans used a tobaccoproduct in the past month.
Binge Alcohol Use - Nearly 1 in 2 current alcohol users reported binge use in the past month.

Overdose Deaths

The most dramatic metric of substance abuse – overdose deaths – is increasing rapidly, particularly in Massachusetts.

In 2015 approximately 20.8 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year. Opiod Overdose Drug overdoses in the United States have quadrupled since 2000 driven by increases in the the number of opiod overdoses.

Personal Stories

BMC community members contributed 10-word stories describing how addiction and/or recovery has affected their lives.