Thursday, April 11, 2024

How Many Americans Are Addicted To Drugs

What Is Drug Addiction

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Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted persons self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a “relapsing” diseasepeople in recovery from drug use disorders are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of not taking the drug.

It’s common for a person to relapse, but relapse doesn’t mean that treatment doesnt work. As with other chronic health conditions, treatment should be ongoing and should be adjusted based on how the patient responds. Treatment plans need to be reviewed often and modified to fit the patients changing needs.

What Is A Drug Addiction Rehab Center

Substance abuse and drug addiction rehabilitation treatment can be used to help a person recover from addictions, injuries, and even physical or mental illnesses. However, substance abuse rehab programs are often what come to mind when thinking of the word rehab itself. People addicted to drugs or alcohol often need the additional care and assistance that addiction treatment centers provide.

Drug addiction treatment programs help people to recover from substance use disorders. There are many different types of addiction treatment centers. Some specialize in helping patients with a specific drug addiction others offer a broader range of drug and alcohol addiction services. Some rehab facilities are even gender- or age-specific, such as a teen or women-only treatment center, as this often helps patients feel more comfortable in the rehab setting. Inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities are also available.

Prevalence Of Substance Use Disorders

Over 2% of the world population has an alcohol or illicit drug addiction

How common is alcohol or drug addiction?

In the map here we see the share of the population with a substance use disorder. Globally, just over 2% of the world were dependent on alcohol or an illicit drug.

In some countries its even more common. In the USA and several countries in Eastern Europe, more than 1-in-20 were dependent. In the USA, this was dominated by illicit drug dependence, whereas alcoholism was much more common in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Alcohol and drug addiction is more common in men

How does the prevalence of substance use disorders alcohol and illicit drug addiction vary between men and women?

In this visualization we show this comparison: the share of men with a substance use disorder is shown on the y-axis the share of women on the x-axis. The grey line represents parity: countries which lie along this line have equal prevalence in men and women. In countries which lie above the line, substance use disorders is more common in men.

Globally, alcohol or drug dependence was twice as common in men as in women: in 2016, 2.4% of men were dependent, versus 1.2% in women. Since all countries lie above the grey line, dependency is more common in men across the world.

Alcohol use vs. drug use disorders

Do countries with high rates of alcoholism also have high rates of other drug use disorders? Or does a high prevalence in one mean a low prevalence in the other?

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Is Fentanyl A Game

People walk past an East Harlem health clinic that offers free needles and other services to drug users on in New York.hide caption

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People walk past an East Harlem health clinic that offers free needles and other services to drug users on in New York.

One troubling question is whether this pattern multiple relapses leading to eventual recovery will continue now that more street drugs are contaminated with the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl.

“It’s killing them on the first try,” said Anna Mable-Jones. “It’s not giving them enough tries, as I may have had.”

Some communities are trying to help, providing active drug users with clean needles and making the overdose-reversal drug Narcan more widely available.

What Do Rehabilitation Treatment Facilities Offer

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Drug and alcohol rehab treatment centers offer frequent individual counseling to patients. These counseling sessions sometimes even take place on a daily basis. Counselors help patients discover any emotional or psychological factors that may have contributed to their addictions. It is important that these psychological factors are addressed if a patient is to make a full recovery.

In addition to individual counseling, patients in a rehab program often participate in group therapy. Patients with similar addictions meet together under the direction of a counselor. This allows them to form friendships and to have fellowship with one another. These close personal bonds aid patients on their road to recovery.

Patients in substance abuse facilities learn to recognize situations that may trigger drug and alcohol abuse. These triggers could be emotional, physical, part of relationships, or simply part of their normal routines. Counselors and doctors help patients learn how to combat those triggers and get out of circumstances that may lead them to abuse substances.

Once patients learn to recognize drug and alcohol abuse triggers, they learn the skills needed to cope with them. Counselors and doctors in rehab treatment centers work with each patient to come up with a personalized set of coping skills that the patient can use to prevent him or her from turning to drugs or alcohol.

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Disease Burden From Substance Use Disorders

1.5% of global disease burden results from alcohol and illicit drug addiction in some countries its over 5%

Using the measure of deaths fails to capture the full health consequences of substance use disorders. Drugs not only lead to death, but also to diseases and disabilities that impact peoples health.

To quantify full health impacts we can look at disease burden, measured in Disability-Adjusted Life Years DALYs. This metric considers not only death rates, but also years lived with disability or health burden.

In the map we see the share of disease burden attributed to substance use disorders. 1.5% of global disease burden is attributed to alcohol and illicit drug addiction.

In some countries this share is much higher: in the USA it accounts for more than 5% of disease burden.

Statistics On Nicotine Addiction And Abuse

As of 2019, anyone over the age of 21 in the US can easily purchase a box of cigarettes. Although cigarettes are legal and accessible, they cause a variety of fatal health conditions and are also addictive.

  • About 34 million Americans smoke cigarettes.
  • Each day, roughly 1,600 young people smoke a cigarette for the first time.
  • About 15% of American men and about 13% of American women smoke cigarettes.
  • People who are disabled, live below the poverty line, or lack a college education are more likely to smoke cigarettes.
  • Over 16 million Americans have a smoking-related illness.
  • Smoking cigarettes is the cause of over 480,000 deaths every year in the United States.
Common Questions About Rehab

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Substance Abuse Among African Americans

The rates of substance abuse among African Americans are similar to those of the general population, although there are some slight differences. Findings from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health include:2

  • 6.9% of African Americans have a substance use disorder compared to a rate of 7.4% among the total population.
  • 3.4% of African Americans have an illicit drug use disorder compared to a rate of 3% among the total population.
  • Past month illicit drug use among African Americans is more than Caucasians and Hispanics .
  • Past month marijuana use among African Americans is higher than the general population .
  • African Americans report lower lifetime use of cocaine compared to Caucasians and Hispanics .
  • Alcohol use disorders are less common among African Americans than the total population .
  • Binge drinking among African Americans is slightly less common than in Hispanics and Caucasians .
  • The rate of heavy drinking among African Americans is much less than the general population and Caucasians .

Although the rate of cocaine use among the African American population is much lower than the rest of the country, it is important to note that this statistic includes the use of both powder and crack cocaine.

Who Is Using Drugs

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People of all demographics choose to use substances, but some groups may be more likely to use drugs than others, as well as being more prone to drug addiction. Here is a summary of published data that shows the groups most likely to use, the types of substances they prefer, and why theyre more likely to indulge.

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Addiction Abuse And Substance Use Disorder

All people affected by substance addiction have a chronic brain disease triggered by the excessive use of certain drugs or medications. The most common culprits include:

  • Alcohol
  • Methamphetamine

Addiction is marked by some core symptoms. Chief among these symptoms are loss of control over substance intake, increased tolerance to the effects of substance use and the development of unpleasant physical and mental symptoms when the brain doesnt receive its accustomed substance supply.

The same substances responsible for triggering addiction can also play a role in the development of a non-addicted pattern of abuse. Common symptoms of this pattern include substance-related problems at work, at home or at school. They also include repeated substance use in hazardous circumstances and continuation of substance intake despite exposure to obviously negative aftereffects. However, unlike a person dealing with addictions, someone dealing with non-addicted abuse doesnt have a physical need to maintain a certain level of substance consumption.

Statistically speaking, anyone coping with addiction stands a good chance of experiencing at least some symptoms of non-addicted substance abuse. The reverse also holds true to some degree. To account for this overlap of symptoms, U.S. doctors and public health officials use the term substance use disorder. A person affected by this disorder may have any possible combination of addiction- and/or abuse-related problems.

How Addictive Is Cocaine

Researchers have attempted to measure the addictiveness of cocaine and other drugs. For example, a 2007 study published in The Lancet assessed the harm, dependence and potential misuse of 20 drugs. The research team found that cocaine is the second most addictive drug behind heroin.

In 2015, a study published in the Journal of Psychology and Clinical Psychiatry also explored the addictive potency of drugs based on a variety of factors. Researchers suggested that cocaine was the third most addictive drug. Only alcohol and heroin were reported to be more addictive.

Cocaine addiction can be deadly. Individuals can experience a fatal cocaine overdose after just one try. More commonly, overdoses occur when people take large doses of cocaine.

Mixing cocaine with alcohol or other drugs is especially dangerous. Combining cocaine with heroin, a concoction known as speedball, greatly increases the risk of overdose. Most cocaine-related deaths occur when the drug stops the heart and causes breathing to stop.

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Get Help For Addiction Today

Addiction to any substance is a serious problem. If you leave addiction untreated, it could stop your life in its tracks. Because an SUD is a progressive disorder, its effects and severity will only worsen over time without treatment.

Fortunately, there are many rehab facilities and recovery centers throughout the country where anyone can get the treatment they need to achieve sobriety. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and you need more information about what to do and where to start, contact a treatment provider today.

  • About

Nathan Yerby is a writer and researcher. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

Clinically Reviewed:

David Hampton

  • About

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

The Science Of Addiction: A Chronic Disease That Deserves Treatment


How does addiction happen?

Addiction is a chronic brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful effects to the individual and others.

  • Drug dependence is a complex disease process and the drug abuser cannot voluntarily stop their use of illicit or prescription drugs.
  • People who become addicted to drugs are not necessarily immoral or lacking in character in fact, drug addiction occurs throughout the mainstream of society.
  • Brain circuit changes may challenge an addicted persons self-control and hamper his or her ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs. Environmental and social signals can also trigger further misuse of drugs.

While someone who becomes addicted to drugs is always at risk for relapse, there are effective treatments for drug detoxification and maintenance.

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Racial Theories For Prescription Opioid Distribution

The reasons for Opioid abuse is complex, differing for each group that is affected. For white communities, synthetic Opioid dependencies emerge as a result of abusing Prescription Opioids after severe injuries. Individuals struggling with Opioid abuse disorders easily transition to craving opioids. As a result, they can begin to seek out substances like Heroin or Fentanyl to replace Hydrocodone or Codeine.

There is a widespread belief that the cautious attitudes some doctors have regarding black patients and pain tolerance has impacted the prevalence of prescription opioid abuse in the black community. Many doctors assume that black patients have a higher pain tolerance and do not need the same dosages of medication. Many doctors are reluctant to distribute medication because of racially-based assumptions that injured black patients would sell pills versus using them to heal their painful conditions.

Such examples of subtle discrimination and racism impact the response of black patients have to severely painful ailments needing medication. The lack of medical treatment may encourage injured black patients to seek illegal Synthetic Opioids, often laced with Fentanyl. A final theory are the strained relationships black men and women have with law officials. Due to negative stereotypes black people receive from police, they are less likely to report overdoses or seek treatment for Opioid abuse.

Drug Use In America Is On The Rise

Across most generations, genders, and demographics drug use in America has increased. Whether discussing heroin, prescription drugs, marijuana or synthetics, American drug abuse has reached alarming levels. With so much information available about the dangers of drug use and headline after headline about record opioid abuse and overdoses, one would think that these numbers would be headed in the opposite direction. Why have Americans seemingly gone backward in the fight against drug abuse?

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, please call .

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Drug Abuse Among Veterans

Mental illness and substance abuse is relatively common among military veterans.

  • 7% of veterans struggle with illegal drug use compared to 5.3% of the general population in the US over age 18.
  • 80% struggle with alcohol abuse, and 7% have an issue with both alcohol and illegal drugs.
  • 7% of the veteran population has a serious mental illness compared to 14.4% of adults over 18.
  • 505,000 veterans misuse prescription pain relievers compared to 59,000 who used heroin.
  • 10% of veterans between the ages of 18-25 misuse prescription pain relievers compared to 5.5% of the general population in the US in the same age group.

Statistics On Marijuana Addiction And Abuse

More White Americans Are Getting Addicted To Opioid Painkillers

is a psychoactive drug which comes from a THC-bearing plant. It is becoming increasingly legal throughout the US, both for medicine and for recreation, but its still not completely safe because it may be addictive and cause health problems.

  • About 30-40 million Americans smoke Marijuana every year.
  • About 43% of American adults admit to trying Marijuana.
  • About 30% of people who regularly use Marijuana have a Marijuana use disorder.
  • The average batch of Marijuana in 1990 contained less than 4% THC, but that percentage has since risen to over 12%.
  • Roughly 10% of all Marijuana users will become addicted to the drug.
  • Around 17% of all who start using the drug as minors become addicted.

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How Is Fentanyl Addiction Treated

Like other opioid addictions, medication with behavioral therapies has been shown to be effective in treating people with a fentanyl addiction.

Medications: Buprenorphine and methadone work by binding to the same opioid receptors in the brain as fentanyl, reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Another medicine, naltrexone, blocks opioid receptors and prevents fentanyl from having an effect. People can discuss treatment options with their health provider.

Counseling: Behavioral therapies for addiction to opioids like fentanyl can help people modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug use, increase healthy life skills, and help them stick with their medication. Some examples include:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps modify the patient’s drug use expectations and behaviors, and effectively manage triggers and stress
  • contingency management, which uses a voucher-based system giving patients points based on negative drug tests. They can use the points to earn items that encourage healthy living
  • Motivational interviewing, which is a patient-centered counseling style that addresses a patients mixed feelings to change

These behavioral treatment approaches have proven effective, especially when used along with medicines. Read more about drug addiction treatment in our Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts.

How To Find The Best Drug Addiction Rehab Center Near Me

If youre in search for the best drug rehabilitation center near you, youll want to be thorough while searching for the substance abuse treatment program that is right for you. Not all treatment facilities are equal, so its important that you know what youre looking for. Not everyone will benefit from the same type of rehab so some priorities may depend on the individuals preferences, but some standard things to look for include:

  • Treatment program accreditations and certifications.
  • Appropriate education, experience, and certifications for staff members.
  • Individualized treatment plans.
  • Experience in treating your specific addiction.
  • Experience in treating addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder, if necessary.
  • Empathetic, nonjudgmental, compassionate staff members.
  • Staff trained in cultural sensitivity.

You may also want to consider a facility that shares your philosophy. For instance, some people prefer faith-based rehabs if their religion is important to them. Others may choose to enroll in a holistic treatment center that utilizes alternative and complementary practices, such as acupuncture, meditation, and yoga. Regardless of the treatment program you choose, its important to confirm that it possesses the above-mentioned qualities.

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