Updated on April 3, 2024
4 min read

Addiction Statistics

Addiction is a pervasive issue that affects millions of people in the United States, with far-reaching consequences for public health, society, and the economy.

From illicit drugs to prescription medications, alcohol, and tobacco, the landscape of substance abuse is complex and multifaceted.

Key Statistics on Substance Abuse in the United States

Here are some key statistics on substance abuse in the United States:

Prevalence of Substance Use Disorders

  • In 2022, 48.7 million people aged 12 or older (or 17.3%) had a substance use disorder (SUD) in the past year.
  • Of these 48.7 million people,  29.5 million had an alcohol use disorder (AUD), 27.2 million had a drug use disorder (DUD), and 8.0 million people had both an AUD and a DUD.
  • In 2021, nearly 1 in 3 adults had either a substance use disorder or any mental illness in the past year, and 46 percent of young adults aged 18-25 had either condition.
  • As of 2020, 37.309 million Americans aged 12 and older were current illegal drug users (used within the last 30 days).
other SUD related figures

Opioid Epidemic and Overdose Deaths

  • In 2021, there were 106,699 drug overdose deaths in the United States, with opioids being the main driver of these deaths.
  • Opioids were involved in 80,411 overdose deaths in 2021, accounting for 75.4% of all drug overdose deaths. Synthetic opioids, other than methadone, are currently the main driver of these deaths.
  • The majority of preventable drug overdose deaths (77%) involve opioids, totaling 75,785 in 2020. 
  • Synthetic opioids other than methadone, including fentanyl, accounted for 67,325 preventable deaths in 2021, a 26% increase over 2020.

Alcohol and Marijuana Use Disorders

  • According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), in the United States, an estimated 14.5 million people ages 12 and older had an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in 2019. This includes 9 million men and 5.5 million women.
  • Research has estimated that around 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder. This disorder is more likely to occur in individuals who start using marijuana before the age of 18, with these individuals being four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.
  • In 2020, NIDA indicated that about 4.0 million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria for a marijuana use disorder, with 138,000 voluntarily seeking treatment for their marijuana use.
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Substance Abuse Demographics

Substance abuse can also differ across demographics: 

Age and Gender Differences

  • Drug use is highest among individuals aged 18-25, with 39% reported usage compared to 34% among those aged 26-29. 
  • Adolescents aged 12-17 show a 3.49% rate of meeting the criteria for substance use disorder.
  • Men are more likely than women to use nearly every type of illicit drug and are more likely to abuse alcohol and tobacco.
  • Women may develop substance use disorders more quickly after initial use and may experience more severe health consequences.
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Race and Ethnicity

  • Drug use and substance use disorders (SUDs) affect all racial and ethnic groups, but prevalence rates and the substances used can vary.
  • White Americans tend to have higher rates of alcohol use and binge drinking among underage populations compared to other racial/ethnic groups.
  • Black or African Americans have seen a significant increase in opioid overdose death rates in recent years.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native and Multiracial individuals show higher rates of illicit drug use compared to other racial/ethnic groups.

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Intersection of Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Substance abuse and mental health can influence each other. These are some statistics about the intersection of substance abuse and mental health:

Co-occurring Disorders

  • In 2017, 8.5 million American adults suffered from both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder.
  • Drug abuse often results in comorbidity, with nearly 50% of persons who have a substance abuse disorder also experiencing mental health issues.

Treatment Gaps

  • Estimates suggest that only half of people with mental illnesses receive treatment.
  • Millions of people are affected by mental illness each year, and mental health treatment—therapy, medication, self-care—has made recovery a reality for most people experiencing mental illness.

The statistics presented in this article paint a sobering picture of the current state of addiction in the United States. This ongoing substance abuse problem continues to take a heavy toll on individuals, families, and communities across the nation.

Addiction is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach, encompassing prevention, treatment, and support for those affected. By understanding the scope and nature of the problem, we can work towards developing and implementing effective strategies to address substance abuse and its far-reaching consequences.

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Updated on April 3, 2024
9 sources cited
Updated on April 3, 2024
  1. "SAMHSA Announces National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Results Detailing Mental Illness and Substance Use Levels in 2021." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 
  2. “HHS, SAMHSA Release 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Data.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  3. “Drug Abuse Statistics.” National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, 2024.
  4. "Drug Overdose Deaths." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  5. “Drug Overdoses.” National Safety Council.
  6. "Alcohol Use Disorder Statistics and Demographics." Caron Treatment Center.
  7. “Is marijuana addictive?” National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  8. "What is the scope of cannabis (marijuana) use in the United States?” National Institute on Drug Abuse. 
  9. “Statistics.” National Institute of Mental Health.

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