The biggest addiction facing the world may not be what you think


If you’re worried about addiction killing people, you’re probably worried about drugs. 

But they pale in comparison to the deaths caused by two everyday addictions:  alcohol and tobacco

In 2015, alcohol and tobacco use, between them, cost the human population more than a quarter of a billion disability-adjusted life years.  

Illicit drugs cost tens of millions.

Some sobering numbers: in 2015, 18% admitted to heavy alcohol use in “the past 30 days”, and 15% were daily tobacco smokers. 

But in drug use?  Over the prior year pot, amphetamine, opioid, and cocaine use came in at 4% of the adult population, with most of them  way under.
European regions had the highest number of heavy drinkers and daily smokers 

The high-income North America region had among the highest rates of cannabis, opioid, and cocaine dependence. 

How many years are lost to addiction? 

There’s a measurement called “attributable disability-adjusted life years” (DALYS)  —  And the highest dalys were for tobacco (170.9 million life years), followed by alcohol (85.0 million). 

More important than “lost years,” perhaps were deaths. 

Tobacco is the biggest killer: 111 deaths per 100,000 people, followed by alcohol at 33.

Illicit drugs are far behind, at 7 deaths per 100,000 people. 

Pay attention. Alcohol and cigarettes are by far the more common deadly addictions. 

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