10 Most Common Addictions

People who want to take back control of their life should know as much as possible about their addiction. These are the 10 most common substance dependencies across the United States.

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Here Are The 10 Most Common Addictions

Nicotine – As of 2020, 59.2% of Americans 12+ had tried it before.

Nicotine addiction may not appear as harmful as many other addictions. This is likely because tobacco products are legal and easy to get, and the worst side effects of using them take time to develop. Tobacco use claims more lives than any other addictive substance. Many smokers cannot quit, despite knowing smoking’s impact on their health. Wanting to quit but being unable to do so is a telltale sign of addiction and a need for treatment.

Alcohol – As of 2020, 79.5% of Americans 12+ had tried it before.

The social acceptance of drinking can make an alcohol addiction hard to spot. Despite its legal status, alcohol’s potential for abuse opens users up to many health risks and possible addiction. Alcohol abuse has numerous negative consequences. In addition to deaths from liver disease and alcohol overdose, drunk driving claims thousands of lives every year.

Marijuana – As of 2020, 17.9% of Americans 12+ had tried it before.

The legalization of Marijuana in some states has made the drug’s use more socially acceptable. This trend can distract people from Marijuana’s addictive potential. Rates of Marijuana addiction might also be growing due to increasing potency (over 60%) over the past decade.

Painkillers – In 2020, 3.3% of Americans 12+ tried them in the past year.

Drugs like Codeine, Vicodin, and Oxycontin are commonly prescribed to treat pain. Painkillers’ prescription status does not mean they aren’t addictive. Addiction to Painkillers can develop from seemingly harmless levels of use. Most patients who become addicted to prescription Painkillers don’t notice they have a problem until they try to stop use. Painkillers are also abused without a prescription, which can also lead to an addiction.

Cocaine – As of 2020, 14.2% of Americans 12+ had tried it before.

Rates of Cocaine addiction in the US are dropping. The decline is slow, however. Crack Cocaine, which is cheaper and more intense than regular Cocaine, is responsible for many crippling addictions and ruined lives.

Heroin – As of 2020, 2.3% of Americans 12+ had tried it before.

Heroin’s severe withdrawal symptoms make beating a Heroin addiction a difficult task. Treating Heroin addiction typically requires a combination of therapy and medications to help manage symptoms of withdrawal and cravings. Heroin use has been growing in the US, particularly among young women. There is growing concern over Heroin users contracting and spreading diseases like HIV and AIDS by sharing needles for injection.

Benzodiazepines – In 2020, 1.7% of Americans 12+ tried them in the past year.

Benzos” — such as Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin — are prescribed as mood-regulating drugs to manage conditions like anxiety and stress. Those developing an addiction to these drugs oftentimes aren’t aware until they can’t function normally without the substance. Benzodiazepines are especially dangerous because of their powerful impact on the brain’s chemical makeup. Withdrawals can be deadly without medical assistance during detox.

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Stimulants – In 2020, 1.8% of Americans 12+ tried them in the past year.

Stimulants range from prescription drugs, such as Adderall or Ritalin, to illicit substances like Meth. These drugs are highly addictive, and intense withdrawal symptoms make quitting difficult. Stimulant users can quickly build a tolerance to the drug’s euphoric “high,” leading to increased use and risk of overdose.

Inhalants – As of 2020, 9.3% of Americans 12+ had tried them before.

Inhalant addiction is particularly dangerous because Inhalants are volatile toxic substances. The effects of these substances are intense and can have immediate consequences including hospitalization or death. Chemicals prevalent in Inhalants can linger in the body and brain long after stopping use, making complete recovery more difficult.

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Barbiturates – As of 2020, 0.2% of Americans 12+ had tried them before.

Millions of Americans are prescribed Barbiturates, which could be included in the larger category of Sleeping Pills, to treat tension and sleep disorders. Every year, thousands of prescription users build a tolerance — and ensuing addiction — to drugs like Lunesta and Ambien. Sleeping Pills can produce mind-altering effects that lead to continued abuse.

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No matter what substance you may be using, treatment programs can help establish a recovery plan that can help. For more information, contact a treatment provider today.



Jeffrey Juergens

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  • Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.

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Clinically Reviewed:

Certified Addiction Professional

David Hampton

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  • David embarked on his journey into sobriety in June of 2005, which led him to his current career path as a Certified Professional Addiction Recovery Coach in private practice in Greater Nashville. David is also a public speaker and the author of two books. David is cohost of the weekly Positive Sobriety Podcast, as well as being a frequent contributor to various articles and recovery based materials. As a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), David works closely with area treatment centers, recovery orientated nonprofit organizations, as well as being a keynote speaker for various recovery-focused events.

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