There are an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 narcotic addicts now in the US. This is a very small number when compared with the approximately 4,500,000 "problem drinkers" in the country, or the many millions of persons who seek and receive treatment from physicians for other conditions. The problem of drug addiction is, however, a social problem of greater magnitude than the relatively small numbers involved might seem to indicate. Further, addiction presents very real personal, medical, social, and other issues for each addict, and for those with whom he has close contact.
There has been much misunderstanding on the part of many physicians, as well as others, about the causes and prevention of narcotic addiction and the treatment of addicts. In general, it may be said that the vast majority of persons who become addicted to narcotics have various types of personality disorders that render them susceptible to the multiple