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Addiction Statistics

Knowing the statistics of addiction can provide an understanding of the risks as well as reassurance that you are not alone, as addiction affects millions of people.

Statistics of Addiction in America

Girl Buying Drugs Addiction is more common than many realize. There were approximately 20.6 million people in the United States over the age of 12 with an addiction in 2011.

Although most people don’t get the treatment they need, over 3 million people in 2011 received treatment for their addiction. Learn more about your treatment options today.

  • Over 20 million Americans over the age of 12 have an addiction (excluding tobacco).
  • 100 people die every day from drug overdoses. This rate has tripled in the past 20 years.
  • Over 5 million emergency room visits in 2011 were drug related.
  • 2.6 million people with addictions have a dependence on both alcohol and illicit drugs.
  • 9.4 million people in 2011 reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs.
  • 6.8 million people with an addiction have a mental illness.
  • Rates of illicit drug use is highest among those aged 18 to 25.
  • Over 90% of those with an addiction began drinking, smoking or using illicit drugs before the age of 18.

Alcohol Statistics

Alcoholism is one of the most common addictions affecting Americans. It also an addiction that goes untreated in many cases because of the legality of the substance. However, the recorded rates of alcoholism are decreasing (18.1 million people in 2002 to 16.7 million in 2011), but the addiction is still a cause for concern. Find out more about your alcohol treatment and recovery options.

  • Binge drinking is more common in men; 9.1% of men 12 and older reported heavy drinking 5 or more days in a month, while 2.6% of women reported this.
  • Over 11% of Americans have driven under the influence.
  • Out of 16.6 million people with alcoholism, 2.6 million were also dependent on an illicit substance.
  • It is estimated that over 95% of those who need treatment for alcoholism do not feel they need treatment.
  • More people receive treatment for alcohol than any other substance.
  • Over 30% of those who received treatment in 2011 reported using public or private health insurance to pay for treatment.

Tobacco and Nicotine Statistics

Tobacco products have the highest rates for dependence. There are several factors that contribute to this, such as availability. There are more resources than ever to help you quit. Learn more about kicking your tobacco habit.

  • Tobacco-related costs for the United States is over $190 billion (healthcare costs, loss of productivity, etc.)
  • The rate of illicit drug use was 9.5 times higher in 2011 for teens who smoked cigarettes than those who didn’t.
  • Tobacco causes more deaths each year than all other substance abuse related deaths combined.
  • Tobacco users in general are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Over 40% of cigarette smokers reported binge drinking in 2011.
  • The rates of pack-a-day smokers among those aged 18 to 25 has decreased by over 13% since 2002.

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Marijuana Statistics

The rates of marijuana use are mostly responsible for the increase in the use of illicit drugs in the United States over the past years. Learn more about marijuana dependence and your treatment options.

  • Marijuana is the most common illicit drug used for the first time. Approximately 7,000 people try marijuana for the first time every day.
  • Out of 2.6 million people who tried marijuana for the first time, over half were under the age of 18.
  • The majority of youths aged 12 to 17 do not perceive a great risk from smoking marijuana.
  • Marijuana had the highest rates of dependence out of all illicit substances in 2011.

Cocaine Statistics

In the period from 2006 to 2011, cocaine use (including crack) decreased considerably by nearly a million less users. Cocaine has one of the highest potentials of developing an addiction in those who abuse the drug. Learn more about treatment options for cocaine addiction.

  • Approximately 1,800 people 12 and older tried cocaine for the first time in 2011.
  • In 2011, over 800,000 Americans reported having an addiction to cocaine.
  • The largest amount of illicit drug-related emergency room visits in 2011 were cocaine related (over 500,000 visits).
  • Cocaine is also the most common drug found in addition to alcohol in alcohol-related emergency room visits.
  • Cocaine use is highest among Americans aged 18 to 25.

Heroin Statistics

Heroin has long had a stigma of being one of the most dangerous drugs. Aside from there being a risk of addiction and overdose, there is also an increased risk of contracting blood-borne diseases such as HIV. Learn more about heroin addiction treatment options and get started on the path to recovery today.

  • The number of Americans with an addiction to heroin nearly doubled from 2007 to 2011.
  • It is estimated that 80% of new hepatitis C infections occur among those who use drugs intravenously, such as heroin users.
  • Nearly half of those who use heroin reportedly started abusing prescription pain killers before they ever used heroin.
  • Over a quarter million of drug-related emergency room visits are related to heroin abuse.

Prescription Drug Statistics

Prescription medication abuse holds a lot of potential for people to develop addictions. These drugs can be easier to obtain than other drugs. Prescriptions, especially painkillers, have a high potential to lead to the use of more dangerous substances like heroin. Learn more about treatment options for a prescription drug addiction.

  • The sale of painkillers has increased by over 300% since 1999.
  • Tens of millions of Americans use prescription medications non-medically every year.
  • Almost 3 out of 4 prescription overdoses are caused by painkillers. In 2009, 1 in 3 prescription painkiller overdoses were caused by methadone.
  • Overdoses caused by painkillers are more common than heroin and cocaine overdoses combined.
  • Over half of the people abusing prescribed drugs got them from a friend or relative. Over 17% were prescribed the medication.
  • The number of people receiving treatment for addiction to painkillers and sedatives has doubled since 2002.

Amphetamine and Methamphetamine Statistics

Amphetamines and methamphetamines are an extremely dangerous class of drugs that are central nervous system stimulants. While amphetamines are typically acquired through a prescription, methamphetamines are classified as an illicit substance in the same class as cocaine. Learn more about addiction to stimulants.

  • In 2010, around 13 million people have abused methamphetamines in their life and approximately 350,000 people were regular users. This number increased by over 80,000 the following year.
  • There were approximately 160,000 amphetamine and methamphetamine related emergency room visits in 2011.
  • Use of amphetamines is increasing among college students. One study across a hundred colleges showed nearly 7% of college students use amphetamines illegally. Over 25% of students reported use in the past year.
  • A study by UCLA revealed that methamphetamines release nearly 4 times as much dopamine as cocaine, which means the substance is much more addictive.

Hallucinogen and Inhalant Statistics

Hallucinogens include a variety of substance including: LSD, MDMA (ecstasy), and mescaline. Inhalants range from household products to medical anesthetics. These substances aren’t as commonly abused as other substances, but still have a potential for dependence. Learn more about the effects of hallucinogen and inhalant abuse.

  • There were over 20,000 ecstasy-related emergency room visits in 2011
  • There were over 1.8 million Americans 12 or older who used a hallucinogen or inhalant for the first time. (1.1 million among hallucinogens)
  • 22.7 million people (as of 2007) have reported using LSD in their lifetime.
  • There are approximately 5,000 LSD-related emergency room visits per year.
  • Nearly 300,000 Americans received treatment for hallucinogens in 2011.
  • Between 2002 and 2006, over a half million of teens aged 12 to 17 had used inhalants.
  • There were over 190,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. in 2008 due to inhalant poisoning.

The statistics found on this page were reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Sources & Author Last Edited: January 21, 2016

  1. Los Angeles Times. (2011). Prescription painkillers outpace heroin, cocaine in OD deaths. Retrieved February 6, 2014, from: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/01/news/la-heb-prescription-drug-overdose-deaths-20111101
  2. On a Kondrotas, MIT. (2006). Speed culture in the digital generation: A commentary on amphetamine use at MIT and colleges nationwide. Retrieved February 6, 2014, from: http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/science-technology-and-society/sts-062j-drugs-politics-and-culture-spring-2006/assignments/speed.pdf
  3. Frontline | PBS. (2011). Frequently Asked Questions: The Meth Epidemic. Retrieved February 7, 2014, from: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/faqs/
  4. Foundation for a Drug Free World. (2006). Inhalants Statistics: Abuse Rates by Teens & Children. Retrieved February 7, 2014, from: http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/inhalants/international-statistics.html
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2011). Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2011: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits. Retrieved February 7, 2014, from: http://samhsa.gov/data/2k13/DAWN2k11ED/DAWN2k11ED.htm
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