BALTIMORE, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Untreated alcohol and drug addiction in the United States remains at pandemic levels, with little change from year to year, an expert says. Victor Capoccia, director of the Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap initiative -- a nationwide effort to expand addiction treatment -- says 23 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs, but only one in 10 are treated.
Capoccia says the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health Data released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows in 2008, 23.1 million persons ages 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem -- consistent with numbers reported in previous years. The most common reason cited by those who wanted treatment but did not receive any was the inability to pay for it.
"The nation is focused on how best to reform our healthcare system.
Access to effective addiction treatment will save billions of dollars over a decade's time compared with the costs and health complications that come with not treating people at all," Capoccia said in a statement.
"Ignoring any disease -- be it addiction, diabetes or hypertension -- is bad medicine and should not be an option in today's healthcare system. Addiction treatment should be fully covered by all insurance plans."