Staggering Statistics!

Addiction Is More Common Than Most Think

person in despair

Addiction is an under-acknowledged occurrence in our society. With the widespread prevalence of prescription medication, advertisements for drug treatment centers, and a high rate of incarcerated drug users, many are led to believe that drug addiction is being kept under control. This is quite the contrary, and America’s addiction problem has been largely swept under the rug.

A recent census on drug addiction shows that at least 24 million Americans (9.4%) have used illicit drugs in the preceding month. Of these, approximately 19.6 million have, or have had, a substance abuse disorder in the preceding year.  This means that nearly one in every ten Americans has a drug abuse problem – a statistic that would surprise many. After a steady decline in drug addiction during the early millennium, substance abuse has sharply inclined over the last ten years.

And this study was taken well before the recent and on-going opioid crises. It also does not consider the flow of even far more devastating drugs developed here and being smuggled into this country from around the world.  

Statistics on the Prevalence of Different Substances of Abuse

Legal and less-stigmatized drugs (alcohol and marijuana, particularly) unsurprisingly make up a large percentage of the addicted population. Divided according to 2015’s census, drug abuse is split mostly among the following:

  • Alcoholics comprise a massive 15.4 million of substance abusers
  • Marijuana smokers comprise 4 million (though marijuana is not generally considered to be an addictive drug, abstaining from it can be difficult.)
  • Users of other all other illegal drugs combined make up 7 million
  • Prescription drug abusers comprise 2.4 million

Statistics on Specific Demographics and Addiction

  • According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 19.7 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2017.1
  • Almost 74% of adults suffering from a substance use disorder in 2017 struggled with an alcohol use disorder.
  • About 38% of adults in 2017 battled an illicit drug use disorder.1
  • That same year, 1 out of every 8 adults struggled with both alcohol and drug use disorders simultaneously.
  • In 2017, 8.5 million American adults suffered from both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder, or co-occurring disorders.
  • Drug abuse and addiction cost American society more than $740 billion annually in lost workplace productivity, healthcare expenses, and crime-related costs.

Causes of Addiction

  • Genetics, including the impact of one’s environment on gene expression, account for about 40% to 60% of a person’s risk of addiction.
  • Environmental factors that may increase a person’s risk of addiction include a chaotic home environment and abuse, parent’s drug use and attitude toward drugs, peer influences, community attitudes toward drugs, and poor academic achievement.

Teenagers and people with mental health disorders are more at risk for drug use and addiction than other populations.