Adult Substance Misuse

Substance misuse by adults is a public health concern. People can experience physical, social, and emotional consequences when misusing substances. Factors such as family history, health conditions, and medication usage play a role in how substances can affect a person.


Nationally, several million adults engage in excessive drinking that may lead to alcohol problems. These patterns include binge drinking (drinking too much at one time) and chronic heavy drinking (drinking a large quantity of alcohol on a regular basis).

Alcohol dependency and abuse are major public health problems that carry a large economic cost and place heavy demands on the healthcare system. In fact, excessive alcohol use is the third leading preventable cause of death for people in the United States each year.

Excessive alcohol use affects every organ and system of the body. It can lead to medical disorders (e.g., fetal alcohol syndrome, liver disease, cirrhosis, cardiomyopathy and pancreatitis). Excessive drinking increases the risk of death from automobile crashes as well as recreational and on-the-job injuries. Furthermore, alcohol is often involved in both homicides and suicides.

Binge drinking is a serious problem, particularly on college campuses. College students who binge drink are more likely to damage property, have trouble with authorities, miss classes, have hangovers and experience injuries than those who do not.