Alcohol and Drug Problems - Topic Overview
Some groups of people are more
likely than others to have problems related to alcohol or drug abuse. These
- Teenagers and young adults. Approximately one-half of all high school seniors in the U.S.
admit to having used alcohol or an illegal drug. Substance abuse in this age
group increases the risk of involvement in crime, high-risk sexual behavior,
accidents, and injuries. Teens that use alcohol and drugs are more likely to
have poor school performance and have higher dropout rates. For more information, see the topic Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
- Although women are less likely than men to
abuse alcohol, they are more likely to have alcohol-related health problems,
- Women are more likely to
have problems with prescription medicines. More than two-thirds of all
tranquilizers are prescribed for women. Tranquilizers, sedatives, pain
amphetamines are abused most often by
- Alcohol and drug abuse in women increases the risk of
developing other health problems, such as
- Women who abuse alcohol and
suicide four times more frequently than
- Adults older than age 65.
Drug abuse in this age group is a problem because of the high number of
prescription medicines and the lack of coordination between doctors. Signs of alcohol or drug abuse may be mistaken for other disease
problems or simply overlooked as a symptom of "aging." Many older adults
"self-medicate" with alcohol to help relieve sleep problems, depression, and
other problems. Alcohol abuse is more common than drug abuse in older adults.
Alcohol contributes to car crashes and other types of severe injury in
this group of people. For more information, see the topic Substance Abuse in Older Adults.
- Low-income populations. Drug and alcohol abuse is a problem for many minorities,
including disabled adults, the homeless, and minority
- Babies.Drug and alcohol use
during pregnancy can cause birth defects and increase the risk of infant
death. Babies are more likely to have learning disabilities and social and
behavioral problems when their mothers use alcohol or drugs during pregnancy.
Babies with mothers who use alcohol are at risk for problems from
fetal alcohol syndrome.
- Children. Studies show that children who are exposed to drug
abuse in the home, especially methamphetamine, have higher rates of depression,
anxiety, post-traumatic stress, anger, and alcohol and drug abuse. They also
are more likely to have learning problems and do poorly in school.
Alcohol is part of many people's lives and may have a place in cultural and family traditions. It can sometimes be hard to know when you begin to drink too much.
There is a strong connection between the use of drugs and
alcohol and high-risk sexual behaviors. This increases a person's chance of
sexually transmitted infections (STIs),
hepatitis B, and
human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
you think you might have a drinking or drug problem, take a short quiz to evaluate your
- Interactive Tool: Do You Have a Drinking Problem?
- Assess Your Drug Use(What is a PDF document?)
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.