Substance Abuse Review

Substance Abuse Review

Mental health is a healthcare concern affecting many people in the United States and the outside world. According to Kilmer et al, mental health is as a state of well-being in which people realize their abilities, work productively, cope with normal stresses in life and can contribute to their community (2015). Mental health is identified as a public health concern because of the impact it causes to the community and the state at large. Activities such as violence, suicide, and drug trafficking are associated with mental health, and the government has put strategies through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to give the affected individuals the necessary care to alleviate the problems (Patrick and Schulenberg, 2014). Alcohol and substance abuse is one of the major mental health concerns in the United States. This paper discusses Alcohol and substance abuse in the United States, highlighting its impact on the healthcare system and provides solutions to the problem.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), substance abuse is the harmful use of psychoactive substances like illicit drugs and alcohol (2018). The psychoactive substances have adverse effects on the body and they often lead to dependence causes changes in behavior, cognition and psychological functioning (WHO, 2018). Alcohol and substance abuse is the fourth leading cause of death in the States affecting people locally and nationally. Approximately 88000 people die each year in the US as a result of substance abuse. According to Patrick and Schulenberg, one in five adults has a mental condition, and it is found that a total population of 40 million Americans suffers from mental illness (2014). Statistics and research also indicate that 56% of adults in the country do not receive treatment, a valid reason why violence such as gun shooting is common in the US (Patrick and Schulenberg, 2014). Alcohol and substance abuse in the United States is not only supported by statistics but also research. Several researches have been conducted in the past to show the state of substance abuse and its relation to public health in America. Stahre et al. conducted research to identify the number of deaths due to substance abuse in the United States and the years of potential life lost (2014). The research data was collected from the CDC archives, and information from 2006-2010 was collected. The research focused on people aged 20 to 64 years because it forms the largest population affected by substance abuse. The results from the research indicated that among the working adults, 9.8% died yearly due to alcohol abuse (Stahre et al., 2014).

The diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM-5) classifies substance abuse as a mental health disorder. According to Patrick et al, there are several groups of substance use disorders to include alcohol abuse, tobacco use disorder, stimulants and cannabis abuse, hallucinogens and opioid use disorders (2013). Substance abuse among teenagers in the US is common, especially in elderly students. A research was conducted to examine the prevalence of binge drinking in 12th-grade students in America (Patrick et al., 2013). The research method used was a clinical representative sample method where high school seniors were studied between 2005 and 2011. A total of 16332 students were studied during the study. The results from the research indicate that 20.2% of seniors in the high school have a 5+ binge drinking habit (Patrick et al., 2013). The researchers concluded that drinking habits are common among 12th-grade students in the United States.

Problem Statement

Mental health is a healthcare concern affecting many people in the United States and the outside world. Productivity, cognition and coping with the normal life are affected in individuals with mental problems. Most of the mental problems like substance abuse can be controlled in the United States through research and the use of effective policies. Substance abuse is a disorder causing over 88000 deaths in the United States yearly while leaving behind several other people with suffering (Kilmer et al., 2015). Through the use of proper legislative policies and health coverage, substance abuse and mental illnesses can be alleviated in the US.

Solving the Problem

The government of the United States should set laws governing mental health to promote parity.  Funding, training, and support are needed for researchers who take time to provide solutions to mental health issues (Kilmer et al., 2015). Incentives should be provided for healthcare workers dealing with mental issues to boost morale so that quality care is enhanced. For substance abuse, the government should incorporate the use of local agencies such as the police so that illegal use of drugs is stopped (Stahre et al., 2014). Insurance cover should be provided for mental health treatment and follow up programs should be put in place to prevent relapses.

Impact on the Healthcare System

Substance abuse is a mental disorder that has an impact on the healthcare system of the United States. Alcohol abuse increases the number of hospitalized individuals each year leading to a larger expenditure from the health sector (Stahre et al., 2014). Statistics from the health sector in 2015 revealed that a total of 2.6 million people were hospitalized due to alcohol abuse (Kilmer et al., 2015). The number of people who die in the country has also increased in the country as a result of substance abuse. Increased hospitalization has also increased the demand for healthcare workers to solve to issue of shortage in hospitals.



Patrick, M. E., Schulenberg, J. E., Martz, M. E., Maggs, J. L., O’Malley, P. M., & Johnston, L. D. (2013). Extreme binge drinking among 12th-grade students in the United States: prevalence and predictors. JAMA pediatrics167(11), 1019-1025.

Stahre, M., Roeber, J., Kanny, D., Brewer, R. D., & Zhang, X. (2014). Peer reviewed: Contribution of excessive alcohol consumption to deaths and years of potential life lost in the United States. Preventing chronic disease11.

Patrick, M. E., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2014). Prevalence and predictors of adolescent alcohol use and binge drinking in the United States. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews35(2), 193.

Kilmer, B., Midgette, G., & Saloga, C. (2015). Back in the National Spotlight: An Assessment of Recent Changes in Drug Use and Drug Policies in the United States. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. Google Scholar.

World Health Organization (2018). Substance Use. Retrieved from