Addiction, or substance use disorder (SUD), is a chronic mental health disorder and a serious problem in the United States. Over 6 percent of adults suffer from alcohol addiction, and approximately 18.7 million live with a substance use disorder.

Whether it’s alcohol, cocaine, opioids, or prescription drugs, addiction kills thousands of Americans every year and adversely impacts millions of lives.

Addictions can destroy relationships, careers and damage a person’s mental and physical health.

Various factors put people at higher risk of developing an addiction to alcohol or drugs; genetics, environmental factors, and a history of previous mental health diagnoses.

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding addiction. There are also a lot of relatively unknown facts.

Some random facts about addiction

13 is the average age that children experiment with drugs.

More than 90% of people who have an addiction started abusing drugs or alcohol before they were 18 years old.

4 out of 5 alcoholics have never received treatment.

Painkillers are the most commonly abused prescription drugs.

Prescription drugs have a higher fatality rate than illegal drugs, and deaths from overdose have tripled since 1990.

Many people with alcohol addiction are gainfully employed. Functioning alcoholics may give the impression that they have it all together when they are really suffering.

Alcohol and drug addiction cost over $600 billion every year in the United States.

Some common myths about addiction

There are a lot of myths surrounding drug and alcohol abuse, but these four are among the most common:

Myth: If you relapse during recovery, you’ve failed.

Fact: Recovery from substance use is a journey, and occasional relapses do not indicate failure. People can and do recover from addiction every single day. With hard work and proper treatment, recovery is possible for anyone.

Myth: Addiction only happens to certain types of people.

Fact: Although certain factors can put some people at higher risk, addiction has no boundaries and does not discriminate. It happens regardless of age, background, or income level.

Myth: Helping people with addiction just enables their drug use.

Fact: Addiction is an illness, and showing support is never a bad thing. Setting boundaries is essential, but interventions should never be denied to try and teach someone a lesson. This kind of treatment often backfires and makes things much worse.

Myth: You have to hit rock bottom to start the recovery process.

Fact: You can start the recovery process whenever you decide you’re ready to make a change.

How drugs and alcohol affect mental health

There are many different reasons that people choose to use alcohol or drugs. Some use drugs recreationally or drink socially. Some may use one or the other- or both- as a coping mechanism or to ease emotional pain. Whatever the reason, long-term drug and alcohol use can be harmful to mental and physical health. Some of the effects can include:

  • High blood pressure

  • Stroke

  • Liver and pancreas issues

  • Drug or alcohol dependence

  • Withdrawal symptoms such as chills, nausea, night sweats, and shakes.

  • Drastic mood changes.

  • Loss of motivation.

  • Depression.

  • Anxiety

  • Suicidal ideation

  • Broken relationships

  • Episodes of drug-induced psychosis

If you’re experiencing mental health symptoms or struggling with substance use, contact Serene Health. We offer a variety of behavioral health and mental healthservices and have appointments available 7 days a week from our telehealth platform. Call us at 844-737-3638 or visit us at to schedule an appointment.