Drug addiction harms people of all ages, races, and economic conditions.

Its effects go far beyond the individual addict’s health and well-being.
Addiction causes family problems, job loss, poor job performance, public health risks, increased risk of infectious disease, and participation in crime as victims and perpetrators.
In fact, America loses billions of dollars each year to addiction-related causes.

Drug addiction can include the exploitation of legal drugs as well as illicit substances.
Many addicts use more than one substance.

Addiction is a chronic, progressive, and potentially fatal disease.
It is characterized by tolerance and physical dependency, pathologic organ changes or both; all of which are the direct or indirect consequences of the substances ingested.

The key words in this definition are:

“Chronic” - incurable, long lasting;
“Progressive” - it gets worse if left untreated;
“Fatal” - addiction causes death, many drugs have life-shortening long-term effects and high potential for lethal overdose; and
“Disease” - a morbid (leading to death) physical process with identifiable characteristic symptoms.