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You are here: Science of Addiction > Addiction is a Disease > Public Health Perspective

Addiction is a Public Health Issue

What are the medical consequences of tobacco use? How do inhalants affect the liver?  What are the gastrointestinal effects of opiates?  The impact of addiction can be far reaching.

Suggested Reading: NIDA: Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse

Directly or indirectly, every community is affected by drug abuse and addiction, as is every family.  Cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, lung disease, obesity, and mental disorders can all be affected by drug abuse. Some of these effects occur when drugs are used at high doses or after prolonged use; however, some may occur after just one use . . . A strong link also exists between drug abuse and top social problems such as drugged driving, violence and crime, stress, and child abuse. 

Suggested Reading: NIDA: Drug Abuse and Addiction: One of America's Most Challenging Public Health Problems: Magnitude of the Problem

Tobacco Effects on Whole Body








“Drug addiction is preventable. Researchers have developed a broad range of programs that are effective in preventing early use of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs and in curbing abuse that has already begun. Preventing substance abuse early in life, especially during adolescence, can reduce the chances of later abuse and addiction” (NIDA, 2007).

“Drug addiction is treatable. Like diabetes, asthma, and heart disease, drug addiction is a chronic disease that can be managed successfully. Relapse is not a sign of treatment failure, but rather an indication that treatment should be reinstated or adjusted to help addicted individuals fully recover (NIDA, 2007).

Recovery of Brain Function







Source: The Journal of Neuroscience, 21)23):9414-9418. 2001

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