Annual Total Deaths for Major Chronic Behavioral Health Problems

  • The mortality toll from heart disease, diabetes, and stroke (as well as smoking) are all much higher than the loss of life from alcohol and drug disorders. Of course, one of the palpable concerns with respect to alcohol and drug abuse is that a minority of deaths is of innocent victims (non-users of alcohol or drugs) through accidents and violence.
  • Valuable perspective is provided on this by McGinnis and Foege (1993), who found that diet and activity patterns were responsible for about 300,000 deaths per year (this cuts across heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other disorders) versus about 400,000 from smoking, 100,000 from alcohol abuse, and 20,000 from drug abuse.
  • Heart disease and diabetes have total health expenditures many times greater than alcohol and drug disorders, while annual stroke and smoking health expenditures are only somewhat greater than alcohol and drug costs. Medically necessary health services for these other health behavior related disorders are routinely covered under private insurance as well as Medicare and Medicaid, as are health problems cause by smoking (prominently including heart disease and stroke).
  • Source: National Institutes of Health (1997). Disease-Specific Estimates of Direct and Indirect Costs of Illness and NIH Update. Department of Health and Human Services