Facts about Addiction

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic, but treatable, brain disorder. People who are addicted cannot control their need for alcohol or other drugs, even in the face of negative health, social or legal consequences. This lack of control is the result of alcohol or drug induced changes in the brain. Those changes, in turn cause behavior changes.

For more information see the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


  • Over 5,500 deaths among Illinois residents each year, over 5% of all deaths, are directly or indirectly related to the use of alcohol and other drugs.
  • From 9,000 to 10,000 Illinois residents die each year from accidental injuries. About 40% of these deaths are related to the use of alcohol.
  • Each year, about 18,000 Illinois residents die from conditions that are related to the use of tobacco products. These tobacco-related deaths account for about 17% of annual total deaths among Illinois residents.
  • The annual Illinois statewide economic costs associated with alcohol, other drug, and tobacco-related mortality is in excess of $3.5 billion.
  • Symptoms of Addiction to Alcohol or Other Drugs:
  • Continued use of alcohol or other drugs despite the negative consequences.
  • Tolerance to alcohol or other drugs by increasingly need larger amounts to get high.
  • Craving or a strong need to use alcohol or other drugs despite the consequences.
  • Loss of Control over the amount of alcohol or other drugs used or the time and place of use.
  • Physical Dependence or withdrawal symptoms when alcohol or other drugs are stopped.

Source: What is Substance Abuse Treatment? A Booklet for Families, Published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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