Addiction continues to be one of society’s most complex and prevalent problems. Millions of Americans abuse alcohol, drugs and nicotine every year. No culture is exempt from substance abuse–it is an equal opportunity disease that crosses all cultures. Over the past several decades, researchers have come up with many theories on the origins of addiction. But regardless of whether the origin is genetic, neurochemical, psychosocial or political, the devastation that substance abuse spawns is part of our historical and present reality.

The results of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that an estimated 22 million Americans age 12 or older suffered from substance dependence or abuse due to alcohol, illicit drugs or both. According to the American Psychiatric Association, substance abuse disorders are significantly responsible for rising morbidity and mortality rates, especially among men, and approximately 100,000 deaths each year are directly related to the use of illicit drugs or alcohol.

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