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Six Million Americans in Denial About Drug Addiction

National Survey Finds Millions of Drug Users Not Aware of Their Need to Seek Drug Treatment

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—John Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy, today highlighted information from the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which shows that approximately six million Americans do not recognize their need to seek treatment for illicit drug abuse.

Director Walters said, "We know that denial is too often part of the disease of addiction. It is a treatable disease, but one that no one gets better from by themselves. We must do everything we can to get friends, family, and drug users themselves to seek help.

As risky behaviors go, drug use ranks among the worst. While it is difficult to draw precise inferences from the data available, the likelihood that an adult who used an illicit drug in the past month (a so-called "current" user) will need drug treatment is approximately one in four—high enough to constitute a substantial risk but low enough that many individuals are able to deny the obvious risks or convince themselves that they can "manage" their drug-using behavior. Denial keeps people from seeking help, it also maintains the destructive behavior long enough to allow the disease of addiction to gain an even firmer hold and be transmitted to peer groups and friends.

If you or someone you know needs help with their addiction, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's treatment locator at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.