In This Article
U.S. Drug Addiction Statistics
Alcohol and drug addiction are significant public health challenges. They affect not only the person but also their family and community.1
Here are a few figures to show the extent of drug and alcohol addiction in the U.S.
Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Statistics
In 2019, 19.3 million adults had SUD. They comprise 7.7 percent of the U.S population.2
Drug use is highest among people aged 18 to 25, at 39 percent.3
Among adults suffering from SUDs:2
- 38 percent struggled with illicit drugs
- 73 percent struggled with alcohol use
- 12 percent struggled with both drugs and alcohol
- 4 percent have both a SUD and mental illness
Only 11 percent of adults with SUD receive treatment. Twenty percent don’t know where to get help.4
Younger people are also vulnerable to drug abuse. More than 40 percent of youth in the U.S. tried illicit drugs at least once. In particular, the percentage of young drug users are:5, 6, 7
- 8 percent of eighth-graders
- 20 percent of tenth-graders
- 24 percent of twelfth-graders
Moreover, young people who started using drugs early are more likely to develop a SUD. For instance, 70 percent of those who began using at age 13 have a SUD compared to 27 percent who started at age 17.6, 8
Other SUD-related figures:
- Every year, 16 million or 6 percent of Americans over the age of 12 abuse prescription drugs.3
- Two million or 12 percent of prescription drug abusers have a drug addiction.3
- Drug-involved overdose deaths tripled—from 6.1 to 21.6 per 100,000 people—from 1999 to 2019.9
- The annual cost of substance abuse treatment is over $600 billion.10
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) Statistics
Alcohol accounts for over 5 percent of all deaths worldwide. That’s around 3 million deaths per year.11
In the U.S., around 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes every year. On average, alcohol poisoning kills six people daily.13
Among adults in the U.S.:
- Roughly 25 percent had at least one heavy drinking day14
- Nearly 40 percent drink in excess12
Heavy drinking can lead to alcohol use disorder (AUD). It’s a serious chronic condition that:
- Affects around 16 million people in the U.S.12
- More prevalent among men (12.4 percent) than women (4.9 percent)5
- Most prevalent among 18- to 29-years-olds (16.2 percent)5
- Least common among people aged 65 years and older (1.5 percent)5
Young people usually drink less than adults. But if they do, they tend to drink more (binge drinking):
- Over 90 percent of alcohol consumed by young people is through binge drinking.12
- Around 4.2 million young people binge drank at least once in the past month.12
- Around 825,000 young people binge drank five times or more in the past month.12
The cost of alcohol misuse amounts to $249 billion per year in the U.S. This covers healthcare costs, lost productivity at work, property damage, crime, and more.15
Opioid Use Disorder (AUD) Statistics
Some opioids (like hydrocodone, oxycodone, and fentanyl) are prescribed for severe pain. However, they are sometimes misused. This means they are used for purposes not consistent with legal or medical guidelines.
Around 10 million people misused opioids in 2019. They comprise 3.7 percent of the U.S. population.2, 3
Among these opioid misusers:2
- 96 percent misused prescription opioids
- 4 percent concurrently misuse prescription opioids and use heroin
Among prescription opioid misusers:2
- 51 percent got the drug through a relative or friend
- 37 percent got or stole the prescription from a healthcare provider
Other opioid-related figures:
- 50,000 people die every year from an opioid overdose.3
- Opioids are behind 72 percent of overdose deaths.3
- 53 percent of overdose death is due to fentanyl.3
Other Substance Abuse Statistics
In 2019, the most commonly used drugs based on the number and percentage of users are:2, 3
- Marijuana: 48.2 million (17.5 percent)
- Psychotherapeutic drugs: 16.3 million (5.9 percent)
- Hallucinogens: 6 million (2.2 percent)
- Cocaine: 5.5 million (2.0 percent)
- Inhalants: 2.1 million (0.8 percent)
- Methamphetamines: 2 million (0.7 percent)
- Heroin: 745,000 (0.3 percent)
Forty-five percent of surveyed Americans said they tried marijuana at least once.16
A third of those who used marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder. One in 6 people who started using marijuana before the age of 18 become addicted.3
In 2020, marijuana use reached its highest rate among college students, at 44 percent.3, 17
Hallucinogens (like LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and other psychedelic substances) are also popular among college students. In 2020, nearly 9 percent of college students used hallucinogens, which is higher than the 5 percent figure in the previous year.17
Other drug abuse statistics:
- In 2017, around 1 in 5 drug overdose deaths were cocaine-related. The highest rate of overdoses and deaths is among non-Hispanic black populations.3
- So-called “club drugs” (like ecstasy, meth, cocaine, ketamine, and LSD) are mainly used by young people in higher-income brackets.3
- Meth and fentanyl are seen as the most significant threats in western and midwestern areas of the U.S.3
At 51.5 deaths per 100,000 people, West Virginia has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the U.S.3
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- “Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health: Executive Summary.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Accessed February 14, 2022.
- McCance-Katz, Elinore. “The National Survey on Drug Use and Health: 2019.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). September 2020.
- “Drug Abuse Statistics.” National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. Accessed February 14, 2022.
- Scutti, Susan. “21 million Americans suffer from addiction. Just 3,000 physicians are specially trained to treat them.” Association of American Medical Colleges. December 18, 2019.
- Alozai, Ubaid ullah, and Sandeep Sharma. “Drug and Alcohol Use.” In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. [Updated 2021 Jul 24].
- “Drugs of Abuse | A DEA Resource Guide: 2020 Edition.” Drug Enforcement Administration. 2020.
- “Monitoring the Future.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. December 15, 2021.
- “Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Surgeon General. November 2016.
- Han, Beth et al. “Intentional Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States.” The American Journal of Psychiatry vol. 179,2 : 163-165.
- “Is drug addiction treatment worth its cost?” National Institute on Drug Abuse. January 2018.
- Davis, Nicola. ”Alcohol causes one in 20 deaths worldwide, says WHO.” The Guardian. September 21, 2018.
- “Strategic Plan 2017-2021: Introduction.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Accessed February 14, 2022.
- Leonard, Kimberly. “6 Americans Die Daily from Alcohol Poisoning.” U.S. News. January 6, 2015.
- “Alcohol Use.” National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). January 13, 2022.
- Sacks, Jeffrey et al. “2010 National and State Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption.” Am J Prev Med vol. 49,5 : e73-e79.
- Swift, Art. “In U.S., 45% Say They Have Tried Marijuana.” Gallup. July 19, 2017.
- “Marijuana use at historic high among college-aged adults in 2020.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. September 8, 2021.