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Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse in Nebraska

Substance abuse is very much a part of our society and it inevitably touches each one of us in some way. If it doesn’t directly touch your life, it does indirectly affect you. Direct costs include those for drug treatment, health care, costs of goods and services lost to crime, law enforcement, incarceration and the judicial system fees. According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, overall societal costs associated with drug use in the United States were estimated at $180.8 billion for the year of 2002. Indirect costs are those due to the loss of productivity from death, human suffering, drug abuse-related illnesses, victims of crime and crime, detrimental indeed.

Substance abuse can simply be defined as the overindulgence in and dependence of substances for mood-altering purposes. Often times, abuse of drugs will lead the user into the dark cycle of addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking abuse and by long-lasting chemical changes in the brain. While there is no cure for addiction, users can get help to treat their disease. Drug use and abuse typically begins with a gateway drug, typically tobacco products and alcohol. We know that one of the most effective ways to prevent drug abuse is by focusing on youth. Research has shown that a person who can make it to age 21 without ever using drugs is more likely never to use.

According to the 2003 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey Nebraska ranked:

  • 9th nationally for teenage binge drinking
  • 3rd among teenagers that reported driving after drinking
  • 2nd in the number of teens that reported riding with a drinking driver.
  • Over ½ of Nebraska teens reported that they currently use alcohol, which ranks Nebraska as 6th in the nation.
  • 7 out of 10 teens who drink have obtained it from an adult.
  • 1 on out 3 teens who drank did so with an adult present.
  • 1 out of 5 drank at home with a parent’s permission.
  • Youth report their first regular use of alcohol is at 14.6 years of age.
For more information about Substance Abuse in Nebraska, please contact Deanna Peterson via email:

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