Each year in the United States, approximately 400,000 deaths result from cigarette smoking, 100,000 from misuse of alcohol, and 20,000 from use of illicit drugs. Many of the adverse health effects associated with the use of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs result from long-term use caused by substance dependence (i. e. , addiction)—a cluster of cognitive, behavioral, and physiological symptoms indicating sustained psychoactive substance use despite ubstance-related problems.
In addition, substance dependence is characterized by repeated self-administration that usually results in tolerance, withdrawal, and compulsive drug-taking behavior. Nicotine is the psychoactive substance in cigarettes and other forms of tobacco that accounts for the addictive properties of tobacco. In addition to tobacco, other potentially addictive substances include alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine.
To assess the prevalence of selected indicators of substance dependence among the U. S. population, CDC and the National Institute on Drug Abuse analyzed data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) for 1991–1992. The findings in this report suggest that a symptom of substance dependence is more likely to be reported by persons who smoke cigarettes and persons who use cocaine than by persons who use alcohol or marijuana.