Understanding addiction as a public-health issue

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Understanding addiction as a public-health issue

The addiction is devastating. Not just families, not just our children but our nation, everyone has to pay attention to these, even if you feel like you are somehow untouched or immune to facing addiction yourself or with someone you love. This is a time when we have a health care crisis, and we are spending the lions share of money that we are spending in this country, we could be saving if we dealt with addiction because of how many people are filling emergency rooms or having problems specifically related to their addiction, like overdose, but also getting into car accidents, having heart problems. I mean it is a devastating health problem. The other thing is most crime, most crime in our cities is caused because of drugs, either people who are on drugs, people dealing drugs, something related to drugs, so that we have more people in our prisons than any other country in the world, over two million. 80% of them are people who are incarcerated are because of drugs. So the economic costs are huge. $425 billion dollars a year are what we are losing because of addiction, and that includes lost productive, the criminal justice costs, the health care costs. So if we start to take this seriously and understand that this is a health crisis, we are not just saving lives. We are not just saving families from trauma, from suffering, but we are also fixing a country that is just such trouble. So it is something that we all have to take seriously and we all have to take on. And when we do, we are actually going to start to lower drug use rates and we are also going to start to lower the rates and treat addicts.

View David Sheff's video on Understanding addiction as a public-health issue...


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David Sheff


David Sheff is the author of Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy, the follow-up to his New York Times #1 bestseller, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s AddictionClean is the result of the years Sheff spent investigating the disease of addiction and America’s drug problem, which he sees as the greatest public-health challenge of our time.

Beautiful Boy was based on Sheff’s article, “My Addicted Son,” which appeared in the New York Times Magazine and won an award from the American Psychological Association for “outstanding contribution to the understanding of addiction.”  It was named the nonfiction book of the year by Entertainment Weekly.  

Named to the Time 100, Time Magazine’s list of the World’s Most Influential People, Sheff also won the 2013 College of Problems on Drug Dependence Media Award. Sanjay Gupta, MD, said, "As a clear-eyed chronicler of addiction, David is without peer.”

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