Adult Addiction Statistics: The Shocking Numbers

Overview of Adult Addiction Statistics

  • Based on a 2017 survey, there are 19 million US adults that have a substance abuse disorder of some form.
Based on a 2017 survey, there are 19 million US adults that have a substance abuse disorder of some form.
  • About 74% of adults with a substance abuse disorder also have problems with alcoholism.
  • 38% of adults 12 and older battle an illegal drug use disorder.
  • In 2017, one out of every eight adults have drug and alcohol abuse disorders at the same time.
  • 8.5 million US adults have a substance and mental health disorder simultaneously.
  • Drug addiction and abuse costs over $740 billion in yearly expenses, which comprises lost money from a lack of productivity, expenses related to healthcare, and costs associated with crime.
  • 13% of US adults that are 12 and older have done drugs within the last 30 days, which is a nearly 4% year-over-year rise.
  • 59 million people in the US, representing 21% of the total population, use illegal drugs or have misused prescription drugs in the last 12 months.
  • 50% of the US population, about 138 million people under the age of 12, have consumed illegal drugs at some point in their life.
  • Usership of drugs for people 12 years and older has gone down 0.4% year-over-year.
  • 138 million US citizens 12 and older have drunk alcohol at some point.
  • 20% of Americans, representing 28 million people, have a disorder related to alcoholism.
  • 57 million Americans consume tobacco products with nicotine in them.
  • 25% of the consumers of illegal drugs have a drug use disorder.
  • 24% of people with drug disorders also carry an opioid disorder, including from the use of prescription painkillers and street heroin.

Types of Adult Addictions

Opioid Addictions

  • About 9 million Americans representing 3.4% of the population have misused opioids at least once in a period lasting 12 months.
  • Yearly users of opioids for Americans 12 and older have decreased by 8% between 2019 and 2020.
  • 2 million Americans or about 1% of the population that’s 12 and older meet the criteria for opioid use disorder.
  • 9 million people who misuse opioids take prescription painkillers.
  • About 745,000 people, or 7% of opioid misusers, have abused heroin. 404,000 people use heroin and prescriptions.
  • Hydrocodone is the most popular prescription opioid around, with an estimated 5.1 million people currently misusing the drug.
  • Consuming opioids for a period that lasts longer than three months significantly boosts the risk of someone getting addicted by 15 times. The average person requires no more than a week’s worth of medications for pain relief.
  • The nationwide opioid rate of prescriptions filled hit a peak in 2012 with more than 255 million. This averages 81 prescriptions for every 100 people.
  • In 2015, opioid prescriptions were being written enough to provide all Americans with 5 milligrams of hydrocodone every four hours for a period lasting three weeks.
  • In 2018, the number of prescriptions lowered to 51 for every 100 people.
  • In 11% of American countries, there are enough opioid prescriptions dispensed for all residents to have at least one.
  • In 2018, there were 51% of Americans given prescription painkillers by relatives and friends.
  • From 2016 to 2017, worldwide opium production increased by over 10,000 tons or about 65%.
  • Opium production in Afghanistan climbed to 9,000 tons annually, and rise by 87% from 2016 to 2017.
  • 75% of the opium poppy that’s cultivated is done in Afghanistan, with Helmand Province having the highest yield.

Narcotic Addiction

  • Opioids that are naturally sourced come from the poppy plant.
  • Synthetic opioids are produced in laboratories, such as meperidine, methadone, and fentanyl.
  • Opioids classified as semi-synthetic are created from natural sources and may contain morphine codeine, heroin, oxycodone, hydromorphone, or hydrocodone.
  • The street names for opioids are horse, mud, smack, junk, oxy, heroin, and many others.
  • In 2018, less than 1% of people, or about 808,000 individuals, admitted to using heroin in the last 12 months.
  • Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, was approved by the FDA for use as an anesthetic and pain relief. It ranks as one of the most dangerous and abused narcotics.

Depressant Addiction

  • Depressant medications and benzodiazepines like Valium, Xanax, Halcion, and Klonopin are prescribed at higher rates than earlier barbiturates.
  • Rohypnol, a depressant, isn’t legal in the US but is more often used with cocaine as an aid for criminals to commit sex crimes.
  • Sedative medications such as Ambien, Quaalude, and Sonata are been prescribed for insomnia.
  • In 2018, 2% of people in the US representing 5.7 million in total had misused prescription tranquilizers.
  • In 2018, less than 1% of people representing 1 million in total reported the misuse of sedatives prescribed to them.
  • 86% of Americans 18 and over admit to drinking alcohol at some time during their life.
  • 70% of Americans have consumed alcohol in the last 12 months.
  • 58% of Americans have reported drinking alcohol in the last 30 days.
  • Of the 15 million people in the US with alcohol use disorder, at least 8% of them have been given some form of treatment.
  • Alcohol consumption among children between 12 and 17 years old grew by 4% between 2018 and 2019, yet declined among all other age groups.

Cannabis Addiction

47 million people representing about 18% out of the total US population over 18 have consumed cannabis once more in the last 12 months.
  • Cannabis use for people 18 and older increased by nearly 4% between 2019 and 2020.
  • Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level but 15 states have legalized its recreational use. The sale of marijuana reached over $14 billion in 2019. At the end of 2023, sales are expected to be $30 billion or more.
  • 30% of people that use cannabis may exhibit varying levels of marijuana use disorder. One out of every six users that began before reaching 18 will become addicted.
  • In 2019, 43% of students at college used marijuana, representing a group with the largest consumption rates of the drug since the early 1980s.
  • Cannabis is often used alongside other drugs, such as alcohol. Alcohol is known to increase the effects of cannabis and increase THC absorption.
  • When cannabis is used with other drugs, the risk of dependency increases, along with behaviors deemed high-risk.
  • Cannabis users that have preexisting health conditions that take multiple drugs with marijuana increase their risk of harm done to their bodies.
  • Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome can lead to numerous health problems that may occur later in a person’s life.
  • Concentrated marijuana can potentially contain THC concentrations between 40% and 90%, which is up to four times greater than THC levels in cannabis buds. Such concentrates are known to be harmful to people that aren’t aware of the high THC levels.
  • Synthetic cannabinoids such as Spice and K2 are sold as low-price alternatives to marijuana, yet are more dangerous.
  • In states where marijuana was legal in 2018, visits to an emergency room have risen by 54%, with hospitalizations increasing by more than 100%.
  • Marijuana has increasingly been found in the bodies of people that have committed suicide, from 7% and 2006 to 23% ten years later.
  • In the state of Colorado, taxpayers spend $5 for every $1 made in tax revenue. Additionally, 2016 DUI expenses where marijuana was involved amounted to $25 million.

Stimulant Addictions

  • Less than 1% of people totaling 1.8 million individuals in the US older than 12 have done meth in the last year.
  • One out of five deaths related to drug overdose in 2017 was from cocaine.
One out of five deaths related to drug overdose in 2017 was from cocaine.
  • Cocaine overdose is highest among black non-Hispanic populations.
  • From 2012 to 2018, cocaine overdose rates rose from 1% to 4%.
  • The majority of the meth that’s sold in America is produced and distributed by Mexican drug traffickers.
  • In 2013, less than 5,000 deaths were related to cocaine use. In 2016, 10,000 deaths were related to a cocaine overdose.
  • The majority of cocaine is made in Columbia, which cultivates 90% of the cocaine powder sold in America. It most often is trafficked into the US from Mexico.
  • Cheaper synthetic cathinones are sold as cocaine and meth alternatives, which can potentially be more harmful and dangerous.
  • MDPV is a common drug found in people visiting emergency rooms that have taken bath salts.

Adult Addiction Rates Per Year

  • 9 million Americans representing 3.8% of people over 18 have a mental illness and substance abuse disorder.
  • Substance use disorders impact 20 million people in the US that are 12 and older.
  • The most common substance abuse disorder with prescription painkillers is cannabis consumption.
  • 3.5 million people are impacted by major depressive episodes, with 4.6 million young adults having them countrywide.
  • There are 51 million Americans over 18 with a mental illness. This is about 20% of the total population.
  • 13 million US adults have a mental illness that’s classified as serious.
  • 358,000 people, about 1.5% of all teenagers, had a substance use disorder and major depressive episodes in the last year.
  • 1% of teenagers with MDE and SUD will have it end in impairment that’s severe.
  • 8% of teenagers with MDE are more at risk of binge drinking than other teens.
  • 32% of teens with ME are more at risk of using illegal drugs.

Adult Addiction Rates by State

  • West Virginia is the higher overdose death rate, with 51 deaths for every 100,000 persons.
  • Delaware has 43 deaths for every 100,000 people.
  • Maryland has an overdose rate of 37 deaths for every 100,000 persons.
  • Pennsylvania is the fourth highest, with 36 per-capita overdose deaths.
  • Fifth is Ohio with 35 ODs for every 100,000 residents.

Adult Addiction Rates by Gender

  • 22% of men have taken drugs in the last 12 months.
  • About 17% of women have consumed drugs in the last 12 months.
  • 4% of men have abused opioids, with 3.5% of women doing the same.
  • 0.2% of women have taken heroin and 0.5% of men have done the same.
  • 3% of men have abused prescription drugs while 3% of women have as well.

Adult Addiction Treatments

  • Medication-assisted treatment has increased by 13% in the last year.
  • In 2018, 19 million Americans older than 12 required treatment for substance abuse.
  • Florida forbade healthcare providers from giving prescription opioids from office locations in 2010, which resulted in a 50% decline in overdoses from oxycodone.
  • New York mandated that prescribers of medication must adhere to the state’s PDMP before dispensing, which caused a 75% decrease in people visiting multiple doctors to receive the same medications.



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