Substance Use

Drug Use In America: Alcohol & Drug Abuse Statistics

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Drug Use In America: Learn the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Statistics

Drug use in America is a significant public health issue, with millions affected by addiction to pain relievers, alcohol, and other substances. The impact of substance abuse on individuals, families, communities, and the economy can be devastating.

It’s important to understand both the prevalence of drug use in America as well as what treatment options are available for those struggling with addiction so that together we can work towards reducing the number of drug overdose deaths.

Do you know someone struggling with drug or alcohol addiction? Zinnia Health can help. We provide compassionate, evidence-based treatment for substance abuse and addiction, delivered by certified and experienced professionals. Our services include detoxification, inpatient treatment, outpatient programs, and continuing support.

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Alcohol Abuse Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol use causes more than 140,000 deaths each year. This accounts for an average of 26 years of life lost per person who died, totaling nearly 3.6 million years of potential life lost.

These deaths predominantly affect adults aged 35 or older and males and are mostly caused by health effects from long-term excessive drinking, including various cancers, liver disease, and heart disease. The other deaths are caused by excessive drinking over a short time, such as car crashes, poisonings involving other substances along with alcohol, and suicides.

The tragic and costly consequences of excessive drinking in the United States are undeniable, with preventable death being one of its leading causes. In 2010, it cost the nation $249 billion, an exorbitant amount that could have been spent on more productive measures.

1. What is the Percentage of People Who Had Problematic Alcohol Use in the Past Year?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 14.5 million Americans aged 12 and above have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Of those with AUD, 9 million are men, and 5.5 million are women.

2. Age Groups Most Affected by Binge Drinking

While anyone can develop an AUD regardless of age, certain age groups are more likely to struggle with binge drinking than others. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an alarming 90% of alcoholic beverages consumed by minors occur through binge drinking.

College students are more at risk. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 29% of college students aged 18 to 22 binge drink, compared to 26% of 18 to 22-year-olds not at college.

Drug Abuse Statistics

Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States show that, in 2021, 16.5% of individuals aged 12 or older, totaling 46.3 million people, had a substance use disorder (SUD) in the past year. This included 29.5 million people with an alcohol use disorder, 24 million with a drug use disorder, and 7.3 million with both an alcohol use disorder and a drug use disorder.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Monitoring the Future Survey, the rate of substance abuse and addiction statistics among adolescents in the United States remained consistent in 2022, following a marked decrease the previous year.

1. Types of Drugs Most Commonly Abused in the US

For the purposes of this article, marijuana is defined as an illicit drug, even though it is legal for adults in some states. According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), marijuana is the most popular illicit substance.

Nearly 53 million individuals aged 12 or older, equivalent to 18.7% of the population, used it in 2021. Young adults aged 18 to 25 had the highest percentage of marijuana use, with 35.4% or 11.8 million individuals, followed by adults aged 26 or above with 17.2% or 37.9 million, and adolescents aged 12 to 17 with 10.5% or 2.7 million people.

In 2021, among individuals aged 12 or above, 14.3% or 40 million people reported illicit drug use.

In the United States, other commonly abused drugs are:

  1. Tobacco: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use, primarily smoking, is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. However, CDC figures also show a decline of about one-third in the number of Americans who smoked during pregnancy.
  2. Opioids: This class of drugs includes prescription painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone, as well as illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl. The opioid epidemic is a significant public health crisis in the US, with tens of thousands of deaths yearly due to overdose. According to the CDC, there were 80,816 overdose deaths involving opioids in 2021.
  3. Stimulants: Stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, are powerful central nervous system stimulants that can lead to addiction, mental illness, and other health problems. According to this study published in the National Library of Medicine, the consumption of stimulants by athletes, students and recreational users can pose severe risks to their health.
  4. Hallucinogens: Hallucinogens like LSD and ecstasy can cause serious damage to the brain, leading to long-term mental health problems. 
  5. Inhalants: Inhalants are chemicals that produce toxic fumes when inhaled. They are commonly abused by adolescents and young adults, leading to various physical health problems. 

2. What is the Fastest Growing Illicit Drug Issue?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the most rapidly increasing illicit drug issue in the United States isn’t cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines.

It’s prescription drugs, and it’s drastically changing the lives of many young people. For example, college students aged 18 to 22 tend to abuse opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin, as well as potentially dangerous drugs like Adderall or Ritalin (stimulants used for the treatment of attention deficit disorder).

When abused, prescription drugs can cause the following side effects:

Stimulants: Paranoia, dangerously high temperatures, and an irregular heartbeat

Opioids: Drowsiness, nausea, and constipation

Depressants: Slurred speech, fatigue, disorientation, and seizures upon withdrawal

Zinnia Health is devoted to helping people overcome dependency on substances, including prescription opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol. We understand the difficulty of living with an addiction and are here for you every step of the way. Call our helpline 24/7 at (855) 430-9439 to get started.

What Percentage of Americans Are Addicted to Alcohol or Drugs?

Approximately 16.5% of individuals aged 12 or older in the United States had a substance use disorder (SUD) in the past year. The impact of SUDs affects not only the individual with the condition but also their families, communities, and society.

Substance use disorders can lead to decreased productivity, increased healthcare costs, strained relationships, and in severe cases, homelessness, criminal activity, and death.

Effective treatments for SUDs exist, including behavioral therapies and medications, but access to these treatments can be limited by stigma, cost, and availability.

Treatment Options for Addiction Recovery

Effective treatments for addiction include:

1. Inpatient Rehabilitation Programs

Inpatient programs provide a safe and structured environment for individuals struggling with addiction. This type of program typically involves 24-hour medical care, individual counseling sessions, group therapy, and other therapeutic activities. Inpatient programs can last anywhere from 30 days to several months, depending on the severity of the addiction and the progress made in treatment.

The goal is to help individuals develop healthy coping skills that will enable them to manage their cravings and abstain from substance use long-term.

2. Outpatient Treatment Programs

Outpatient programs offer an alternative option for those who cannot commit to an inpatient program or prefer a less intensive approach. Outpatient programs involve attending scheduled appointments at a clinic or facility where participants receive individual counseling, participate in group therapy sessions, attend educational classes about addiction recovery, and learn relapse prevention strategies.

These programs are often tailored specifically to meet each person’s needs so they can continue living their daily lives while receiving treatment for their addiction.

3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a form of psychotherapy based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected and can be changed to positively impact our lives. CBT can provide individuals in recovery with the tools they need to manage their cravings, build healthy coping skills, identify triggers for substance use, and develop more effective ways of thinking and behaving.

4. Contingency Management (CM)

CM is an evidence-based approach to addiction treatment that uses rewards or incentives to promote positive behavior. It involves setting specific goals and providing tangible rewards, such as vouchers or money when goals are achieved. This treatment method can be particularly helpful for individuals who have difficulty staying motivated in their recovery efforts.

Get Help for Alcohol & Drug Abuse Today

At Zinnia Health, we understand the complexity of alcohol and drug addiction and the importance of evidence-based treatments. We offer a range of services, including detox facilities, inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient treatment.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one on the journey to recovery. Call our helpline 24/7 at (855) 430-9439 to get started.

Call us
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(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us