Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of the nationally syndicated “The Dr. Oz Show,” was recently the headline speaker at the UNITE to Face Addiction rally in Washington D.C., where he said “the face of addiction in America has changed.”
Tens of thousands of people joined Dr. Oz in attendance at the event on October 4 to raise awareness and start the conversation about drug addiction in the US. The following statistics detail the extent of the growing problem of addiction in America:
- Nearly 22 million Americans are currently battling drug addiction.
- Addiction impacts about one in three households in America.
- Drugs are more available and dangerous than ever before and more children each year are being exposed to drugs at younger ages. About 90% of the 22 million currently experiencing addiction began drug abuse during their teenage years.
- The abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs is expensive to the US, costing more than $700 billion annually.
- One person dies from alcohol or other drugs every 4 minutes in America.
Dr. Oz says these statistics show that nearly everyone deals with addiction, whether directly or indirectly.
“It’s not just someone else is having a drug problem. When one in three families has an issue, we all have to deal with it,” Oz said. “Most of us have no idea it’s happening right now under our noses in the best neighborhoods out there.”
Along with Dr. Oz, two other speakers attended the rally, including U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy and Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Steven Tyler, Sheryl Crow, the Fray, and Aloe Blacc were among the performers at the event.
Donald McFarland, communications director for Facing Addiction, the organization in charge of the UNITE to Face Addiction launch event, says the purpose of the rally was to change the rhetoric surrounding addiction and bring more awareness to the issue.
“That’s why we’re in Washington D.C. because it is a national healthcare crisis,” he said. “The truth of the matter is, ‘just say no’ didn’t work and the war on drugs failed.”
According to Facing Addiction, more needs to be done to prevent addiction in America. This includes making sure teens are educated about the risks of addiction. Parents also need to know how to talk to their children about drugs. Understanding that addiction is a health problem, not a crime, can change everything, according to the organization.
More also needs to be done with treatment and recovery in the US, according to Facing Addiction. The organization says about 10% of people needing treatment currently receive it and 8.3 million children live in a household with a parent in need of treatment.