Significance of the Center Goals and Research Theme

Significance of the Center Goals and Research Theme

Problems associated with substance use are a serious public health concern. Understanding and preventing such problems not only benefits our communities, it can also help society on a global scale. The misuse of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs carry substantial cost burdens annually for the U.S. Diseases, injuries and deaths relating to these substances and their associated social costs are broadly experienced throughout the nation.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse annual societal costs*related to crime, lost work productivity and healthcare that are associated with use of these substances impact the nation financially in the following way:

Substance Health Care Costs Total Costs to Society
Tobacco $96 billion $193 billion
Alcohol $30 billion $235 billion
Illicit Drugs $11 billion $193 billion


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5745a3.htm
  2. Rehm J. , Mathers C. , Popova S. , Thavorncharoensap M. , Teerawattananon Y. , Patra J.
    Global burden of disease and injury and economic cost attributable to alcohol use and alcohol-use disorders. Lancet, 2009 Jun 27;373(9682):2223-2233.
  3. National Drug Intelligence Center (2010). National Threat Assessment: The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society. Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice.


Tobacco Use

Each year 1 in every 5 deaths in the U.S. is the result of smoking cigarettes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cigarette smoking results in more than 480,000 premature deaths annually. Another 41,000 nonsmoking Americans die from serious diseases attributed to secondhand smoke exposure.1,2 Deaths and disease resulting from tobacco use are preventable. There are community interventions that can raise awareness and help us work together to decrease life loss and illness and associated costs.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Fast Facts. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/
    . Updated April 2014. Accessed December 12, 2014.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Vital Signs: Nonsmokers' Exposure to Secondhand Smoke-United States, 1999-2008. MMWR. 2010;59(35):1141-1466. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5935a4.htm?s_cid=mm5935a4_w. Accessed December 12, 2014.


Alcohol Use

Approximately 88,000 deaths are attributed to alcohol use annually. It is the third leading preventable cause of death in the nation. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm). Alcohol-impaired driving accounts for a high percentage of driving fatalities and auto crashes. Alcohol is also involved in a substantial percentage of recreational injuries.

In 2012, 17 million adults age18 and older experienced an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), additionally an estimated 855,000 adolescents ages 12-17 had an AUD. (SAMHSA, http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs2012/NSDUH-DetTabs2012/HTML/NSDUH-DetTabsSect5peTabs1to56-2012.htm#Tab5.8A).

More than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems. (SAMHSA, http://media.samhsa.gov/data/spotlight/Spot061ChildrenOfAlcoholics2012.pdf)

For more research-based information on drinking and its impact go to: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health


Illicit Drug Use

In the United States, 114 people die daily as a result of a drug overdose, and another 6,748 are treated in emergency departments (ED) for the misuse or abuse of drugs.1,2 According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) an estimated 23.9 million Americans aged 12 or older used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication (such as a pain reliever, stimulant, or tranquilizer) in 2012, and the state where you live can make a difference. http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/opioid-prescribing/)

Drug use is highest among teens and young adults in their 20's. The most commonly used illicit drug is marijuana, which after alcohol use has the highest rate of dependence or abuse among all drugs. Marijuana use has increased about 7% since 2007. (http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends)

Death rates from drug overdose have been rising steadily since 1992. In 2012, drug overdose caused more deaths than motor vehicle traffic crashes for persons 25 to 64 years old.1

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. (2014) Available from URL: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal.html.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Highlights of the 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) findings on drug-related emergency department visits. The DAWN Report. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2013. Available from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/2k13/DAWN127/sr127-DAWN-highlights.htm

The main goal of our research program is to understand the individual, social, political and environmental circumstances related to adverse health outcomes and to design, implement, and evaluate interventions to alleviate these outcomes. The Prevention Research Center (PRC) recognizes how the complex issues surrounding substance use affect all communities across the nation and our dedicated team of researchers study mechanisms that can help prevent resulting alcohol, tobacco, drug, and other social problems. Our research continues to yield important tools and findings relevant to the prevention of these problems.