The current Ebola outbreak has people concerned and worried. International support is being offered to help stop the spread of this disease.
How many people are known to have been infected with ebola? Since its discovery in 1976, there have been fewer than 10,000 known cases. How many have died? Under 5,000. (both numbers as of Sept 23,2014)1,2,3
Let’s compare that to substance abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Every day in the United States, 113 people die as a result of drug overdose, and another 6,748 are treated in emergency departments (ED) for the misuse or abuse of drugs.”4 That’s 41,340 dying in the United States in 1 year just from drug overdose. Almost 2.5 million people visited emergency rooms in the U.S. in 2011 from “misuse or abuse of drugs”.4,5
Drugabuse.gov reports that “There are more deaths, illness, and disabilities from substance abuse than from any other preventable health condition. Today, one in four deaths is attributable to alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use.”6
There are reasons for the heightened concern over the ebola virus. It can spread exponentially — meaning that if left unchecked, the number of infected people could grow larger and larger. And its mortality rate is high enough to worry. Additionally, more people have died from ebola this year than in any previous outbreak.
When we look at sheer numbers of people affected by substance abuse, the urgency to contain the problem ought to be just as great.
If you were sick with ebola, wouldn’t you seek help? Wouldn’t you do what you could to keep your family and friends from losing you? Seek help for drug and alcohol use too.
How would you compare ebola and substance abuse? Please leave a comment below.
Photo Credit: Ebola virus particles. Photo provider: CDC/ NIAID. Credit: NIAID. http://phil.cdc.gov