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How Many People Are Addicted To Drugs

Drug Abuse Among Demographics

Homeless man talks openly about being addicted to heroin. We have an opioid crisis in America.

Statistics indicate that some demographics and communities face elevated risks of drug abuse and drug disorders.

  • Persons previously abusing drugs and recently released from prison are at the highest risk for overdose as their tolerance to the drug has dropped while being incarcerated.
  • Club drugs such as ecstasy, meth, cocaine, ketamine, LSD, and GHB are primarily used in higher-income settings by young people.
  • Among lower-income users, the most commonly used drugs are inhalants such as paint thinner, gasoline, paint, correction fluid and glue.
  • 6.3 million LGBT+ adults had a substance or mental abuse disorder or both.
  • 7% of LGBT+ adults struggled with illegal drugs.
  • 2% of LGBT+ adults struggled with alcohol abuse.
  • 8% struggled with both illegal drugs and alcohol abuse.
  • 3% indicated a serious mental illness.

Drug Abuse Among Age Groups

While younger people are more likely to use drugs, the rate of drug use among people over 40 is increasing faster than it is among younger age grups.

  • The drug-related death rate for users over 50 increases 3% annually.
  • 75% of deaths from drug use disorders among users aged 50 years and older are caused by opioids.
  • 6% of drug deaths among 50-plus users are from cocaine and amphetamines, and 13% are from other drugs.
  • 35% of college students indicated they use illegal drugs instead of prescription drugs.
  • 93% of college students who use illegal drugs use marijuana.
  • 37% use cocaine and 36% use hallucinogens.

Drug Abuse Among States

Amphetamine And Methamphetamine Addiction Statistics In The Uk

A 2014 study found that around 25,000 people abused methamphetamine in the UK. The study also showed that methamphetamine accounted for only 0.3% of all referrals to national drug services. In the year under review, 240 people were recorded as having asked for help with methamphetamine in the whole of England, compared to nearly 8,000 people asking for help with cocaine related problems.

Does Everyone Who Takes Drugs Become Addicted

Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted. Everyone’s bodies and brains are different, so their reactions to drugs can also be different. Some people may become addicted quickly, or it may happen over time. Other people never become addicted. Whether or not someone becomes addicted depends on many factors. They include genetic, environmental, and developmental factors.

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Prescription Drug Addiction Statistics In The Uk

  • There has been a more than 100% rise in the prescription of anti-depressants in the UK over the last decade. Prescriptions have increased from 12 to 24 million in the past decade.
  • Opiate related deaths have soared from 50 a year in 1993 to almost 200 a year as of 2014, according to data from the ONS.
  • Additionally, figures released by the 2014/2015 crime survey report for England and Wales show that 5.4% of the adult population aged 16 to 59 have abused opiates without a prescription for them. The report also showed that people aged 16-24 are most at risk of opiates abuse, with 7.2% of this demographic admitting to misusing.

Indirect Deaths: Risk Factors For Early Death

Reality Check  Most Dont Become Addicted

Substance use is responsible for 11.4 million premature deaths each year

11.8 million deaths are attributed to substance use each year we look at the this breakdown between direct deaths and indirect deaths from increased risk of various diseases and injury here.

What we see from this breakdown is that the majority of these deaths are indirect: they result from more than smoking increasing the risk of lung and various other cancers, heart disease, stroke and diabetes and alcohol and illicit drugs increasing the risk of suicide, hepatitis and liver diseases.

The Global Burden of Disease is a major global study on the causes and risk factors for death and disease published in the medical journal The Lancet.8 These estimates of the annual number of deaths attributed to a wide range of risk factors are shown here. This chart is shown for the global total, but can be explored for any country or region using the change country toggle.

In this chart you see deaths from smoking, secondhand smoke, alcohol use, and drug use: collectively these accounted for 11.4 million deaths in 2017. If we consider these deaths collectively, this makes substance use the leading risk factor for premature death globally.

Read Also: How To Get Certified Addiction Counselor

Drug Overdose Death Statistics

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Drug overdose can occur in people addicted to drugs and those who are not.

After the number of fatal overdoses across the U.S. fell in 2018, data from 2019 showed a sharp increase, with 2020 estimated to be the deadliest year on record.

What recent data on drug overdoses in the United States shows:

Rates for overdose deaths involving specific drugs:

  • Over 50 percent of psychostimulant-related overdose deaths involve opioids.
  • Synthetic opioids other than methadone, such as fentanyl, are involved in over 70 percent of all drug overdose deaths.

The scope of drug overdose fatalities in the United States long-term:

  • Nearly 841,000 people have died due to fatal drug overdose since 1999.
  • From 2010 to 2019, drug overdose deaths have more than doubled, from 38,329 deaths in 2010 to over 70,000 in 2019.

Increased drug overdose death rates in 2020:

  • Drug overdose deaths were up 11.4 percent in the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period the previous year.
  • Approximately 81,230 drug overdose deaths occurred between June 2019 and May 2020, with the largest increase recorded between March and May of 2020.
  • The year of 2020termed by some as the pandemic yearis estimated to be the deadliest year for drug overdose deaths on record in the United States.

Statistics On Prescription Drug Misuse And Addiction

Overview of prescription drug abuse rates:

  • More than one million people misused prescription stimulants, 1.5 million misused tranquilizers, and 271,000 reported misusing prescription sedatives in 2017.
  • In 2017, an estimated 18 million Americans aged 12 and older reporting misusing prescription drugs in the last year.

Sedative/tranquilizer abuse rates:

  • About 681,000 people had a prescription sedative or tranquilizer use disorder in 2019.

Prescription stimulant abuse rates:

  • More than 550,000 people were dependent on or addicted to prescription stimulant drugs.

Amphetamine misuse rates:

  • The misuse of prescription drugs like Adderall is highest among young adults, who will misuse these drugs to improve focus, boost energy, and suppress appetite.

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Alcohol Use In The United States

  • Prevalence of Drinking: According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health , 85.6 percent of people ages 18 and older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime,1 69.5 percent reported that they drank in the past year,2 and 54.9 percent reported that they drank in the past month.3

  • Prevalence of Binge Drinking and Heavy Alcohol Use: In 2019, 25.8 percent of people ages 18 and older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month,4 and 6.3 percent reported that they engaged in heavy alcohol use in the past month.5


  • Emerging TrendHigh-Intensity Drinking: High-intensity drinking is defined as consuming alcohol at levels that are two or more times the gender-specific binge drinking thresholds . Compared with people who did not binge drink, people who drank alcohol at twice the gender-specific binge drinking thresholds were 70 times more likely to have an alcohol-related emergency department visit, and those who consumed alcohol at 3 times the gender-specific binge thresholds were 93 times more likely to have an alcohol-related ED visit.6

Nearly Half Of Americans Have A Family Member Or Close Friend Whos Been Addicted To Drugs


Its common for Americans to know someone with a current or past drug addiction and its an experience that mostly cuts across demographic and partisan lines.

A Pew Research Center survey conducted in August found that 46% of U.S. adults say they have a family member or close friend who is addicted to drugs or has been in the past. Identical shares of men and women say this , as do identical shares of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents when compared with Republicans and Republican leaners . There are no statistically significant differences between whites , Hispanics and blacks .

Data from the federal government provide context for these survey findings. In 2016, about 7.4 million Americans ages 12 and older reported behavior in the past year that meets the criteria of an illicit drug use disorder, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration . These criteria include a drug user making unsuccessful attempts to cut down on use or continuing the habit despite physical health or emotional problems associated with use.

While a relatively small share of Americans report having an illicit drug use disorder, the number and rate of drug overdose deaths has grown sharply in recent years, with opioids accounting for a rising share of these fatalities. Opioids now account for more than six-in-ten drug overdose deaths.

Preliminary estimates show that U.S. drug overdose deaths continued to rise sharply in 2016.

Also Check: Can You Get Addicted To Lorazepam

An Interesting Rewarding Valuable Field

At Massachusetts General Hospital, physicians are also redesigning addiction care, not only to benefit patients but also to attract students to the field, according to Wakeman. These new care models demonstrate to trainees that addiction medicine is an interesting, rewarding, and valuable field, she says.

Tetrault also believes that working in team-based care settings would draw interest to the field. We need to expose students to patients who are doing well in addiction treatment, she says. If they were not disproportionately exposed to patients in crisis the person who has end stage liver disease due to excessive alcohol use or the one who arrives in the emergency department with an abscess caused by injecting drugs students and residents might see the field in a more positive light.

Teitelbaum agrees that students need to see the face of the illness and both he and Lynch believe it is best for students to see every stage of addiction sooner rather than later. If you expose students earlier in their education, youll generate more interest, says Teitelbaum. But he expects to have no trouble attracting students if the new residency slots are approved. Already, he receives far more applications for the six fellowship positions his institution offers than he can accommodate, and adds that colleagues at other universities say the same.

Despite too few hands now, those who have devoted themselves to treating addiction remain upbeat.

How To Reverse The Trend

Despite the war on drugs and several other efforts to curb drug use in America, these efforts have only been successful in small groups. The best way to reduce drug abuse in the nation is for parents and community leaders to take proactive approaches to substance abuse prevention. This includes recognizing the risk factors for developing an SUD and the signs of abuse, among many other things.

Common Risk Factors for Addiction:

  • Poor education

Signs of Substance Abuse:

  • Problems at school or work
  • Physical health issues
  • Behavioral changes
  • Unexplained money spending

In most cases, prevention of drug use begins at home and school. Parents need to lead by example, and educators need to be diligent in talking about the dangers of substance abuse. Among young and older adults, finding drug-free pain management alternatives in addition to healthy ways to manage stress would go a long way in reducing drug use.

Unfortunately, substance abuse and drug addiction are inevitable in every society. Natural curiosity, youthful rebelliousness and many other factors will always make it so people experiment with drugs. In some cases, that experimentation grows to abuse and then addiction. Its at this time that you need trained professionals to help you fight back against addiction, and Unity Behavioral Health is ready to lead the way. We offer dozens of programs to treat all kinds of drug addictions. To begin drug rehab or learn more, contact us at .

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Changing Views On Drugs

Americans of all ages have a different perception of the dangers of drug use than in the past. This is especially true of marijuana, with several states now legalizing it for recreational and medicinal use. In 1969, a Gallup poll of 1,028 adults from across the nation revealed that only 12 percent were in favor of marijuana legalization. In 2001, that number had swelled to 31 percent. However, a 2015 poll showed that 58 percent were in favor of legalizing the drug.

While favorable views on marijuana dont necessarily equate to favorable views on all other drugs, its not too far of a stretch. The most recent Monitoring the Future Survey reported that fewer 10th graders than from the previous survey perceived a risk in taking inhalants, synthetic cathinones, crack or Vicodin occasionally.

What Are Prescription Drugs

How Many People Are Addicted To Drugs

A prescription drug is a pharmaceutical drug that requires you to have a written prescription by a licensed medical practitioner before you can acquire it. This is rather unlike over-the-counter medicine that you can obtain without any prescription.

Prescription drugs are controlled in this way because they contain active ingredients that people can quickly develop an addiction to. That is, drug abuse and dependence is a greater danger with a prescription drug.

Generally, prescription drugs are more potent than over-the-counter medication. This also means that they can have much more significant side effects if you misuse them. In essence, prescription drug abuse is when you take medication for reasons other than why your doctor prescribed it. Also, if you take more than the recommended dosage, you are abusing the drug.

According to the stats, about 22% of Canadians above 15 years use one or more psychoactive prescription drugs. Some of the drugs that fall under this category and are commonly abused include:

  • Opioid pain relievers Morphine, Codeine, OxyContin, Vicodin, etc.
  • Central Nervous System Depressants Valium, Xanax, etc.
  • Stimulants Dextrostat, Ritalin, Adderall, etc.

Related article: How To Treat Prescription Drug Abuse

Also Check: How To Support An Addict In Recovery

Get Freedom From Drug Abuse With Bedrock Recovery Center

After reading all those sobering statistics about the effects of drug abuse in the nation, you know that youre not alone in your struggle with substances.

And you know what the next step needs to be.

Its time to seek treatment and freedom from substance use disorder. At Bedrock Recovery Center, you should expect your experience to include:

  • Compassionate treatment for opioid, stimulant, prescription drug, or alcohol addiction
  • Screening and care for co-occurring disorders
  • A multifaceted treatment plan that includes evidence-based and holistic solutions

to take the first step toward recovery!

Alarming Addiction Statistics And Facts For 2021

written by Hristina Nikolovska / January 10, 2021

Weve compiled the following list of addiction statistics from several verified sources to help educate you. Addiction is a big problem throughout the world, with a lot of people battling various forms of the disease. Because of addictions prevalence in the world today, it has become necessary to know the various forms this problem takes and the effects these substances have on us.

These statistics cover several substances, including cocaine, alcohol, and prescription medications, to give a better idea of the challenges those with an addiction face. As the following data will show, these substances affect people across all genders, races, and economic backgrounds.

Also Check: How To Get Off Caffeine Addiction

Statistics On Specific Population Demographics And Addiction

Adolescents :

  • In 2017, approximately 4% of the American adolescent population age 12 to 17 suffered from a substance use disorder this equals 992,000 teens or 1 in 25 people in this age group.1
  • About 443,000 adolescents age 12 to 17 had an alcohol use disorder in 2017, or 1.8% of adolescents.1
  • An estimated 741,000 adolescents suffered from an illicit drug use disorder in 2017, or about 3% of this population.1

Young adults aged 18-25:

  • About 5.1 million young adults age 18 to 25 battled a substance use disorder in 2017, which equates to 14.8% of this population and about 1 in 7 people.1
  • About 3.4 million young adults age 18 to 25 had an alcohol use disorder in 2017, or about 10% of young adults.1
  • About 2.5 million young adults had an illicit drug use disorder in 2017, or about 7.3% of this population.1
  • Heroin use among young adults between 18 and 25 years old doubled in the past decade.4

Over age 26:

  • Approximately 13.6 million adults age 26 or older struggled with a substance use disorder in 2017, or 6.4% of this age group.1
  • About 10.6 million adults age 26 and older had an alcohol use disorder in 2017, or about 5% of this age group.1
  • About 4.3 million adults age 26 or older had an illicit drug use disorder in 2017, or 2% of this age group.1

Elderly individuals:

Men vs. women:


Criminal justice/employment status:

Addiction Abuse And Substance Use Disorder

Secret of Drug Addiction: Why People Get Addicted To Drugs? New Approach to Drugs

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.

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