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25 Sobering Addiction Statistics to Ground You in 2020

If you think that you are quite familiar with the subject of dependency, these addiction statistics will make you think again. Considering the unpredictability of the trends worldwide, these stats will probably surprise you. 

Defined as an uncontrollable urge to do or consume something, addiction can be either behavioral or related to a substance. These statistics focus on the latter, and they show, among other things, that the use of tobacco, illicit drugs, and alcohol often leads to deaths, crime, unemployment, unproductivity, and many serious health conditions. 

These factors, collectively, inflict a loss of $740 billion to the American economy each year, not to mention the unmeasurable emotional damage. Here are some of the newest facts and figures about this devastating phenomenon. 

Top 10 Essential Addiction Statistics

  • The US accounts for 80% of the world’s consumption of opioid painkillers.
  • Fentanyl is the deadliest opioid in the US.
  • 473,000 Americans were incarcerated for seeking drugs.
  • 20.8% of 12th graders are vaping marijuana.
  • In 2016, almost 1 in 10 people used the darknet to buy drugs.
  • 8.5 million American adults have both mental and substance use disorders.
  • Ritalin (methylphenidate hydrochloride) is the most abused prescription drug in the US.
  • 54.1% of first-time drug users are under 18 years of age.
  • Alcohol use disorders cause more deaths than any other substance use disorder.
  • 22 million Americans are in recovery from substance abuse.

Substance Abuse Statistics in the US

addiction statistics

1. Global statistics from 2017 reveal that the US has the highest disease burden related to alcohol and illicit drug addiction.

(Our World in Data) (Our World in Data)

Smoking, together with alcohol and illicit drug abuse, is accountable for 11.8 million deaths around the world every year. The metrics of disease burden includes not only the mortality rate but also the years lived with a disability caused by alcohol and illicit drug consumption. An estimated 1.5% of the global disease burden is attributed to these addictions. The US has the world’s highest disease burden (5.22%), followed by Russia (4.99%), and Greenland (4.06%).  

2. Drug abuse statistics from 2017 show that America is the fifth country in the world by drug abuse death rate.

(World Life Expectancy)

WHO data from 2017 point out to Ukraine as the world’s leader in death rates caused by drugs (15.93 deaths per 100,000 people). Next on the list is Belarus (12.48), followed by Russia (12.33), and Estonia (11.71). The US is ranked fifth, with a drug abuse death rate of 10.21 per 100,000 Americans. On the other side of the spectrum, Brunei and Somalia have the lowest drug-use death rates in the world (0.19), followed by Madagascar, South Sudan, and Malawi (0.21).

3. Drug addiction statistics expose West Virginia as the state with the highest rate of drug overdose cases.

(CDC)

With the drug overdose prevalence of 57.8 deaths per 100,000, West Virginia is the US state with the most drug overdose cases in 2017. In the same year, Ohio had 46.3 cases per 100,000, followed by Pennsylvania (44.3), the District of Columbia (44.0), and Kentucky (37.2). Comparing the figures of drug use in America from 2016 and 2017, it is evident that some states like Alabama, Arizona, California, and Connecticut experienced a significant increase in the drug overdose death rates during this period.

4. Addiction statistics reveal that 22 million Americans are in recovery from substance abuse.

(Statista) (Statista) (Stat News)

Statistics show that almost 10% of US adults have been admitted to a rehabilitation center at some point in their life. In 2016, the number of admissions to the American Addiction Centers had increased by 8,915 since 2012, totaling at 11,849 admissions. However, given the large number of addicts, this was insufficient. Statistics show that out of 20 million American addicts, only 4 million are to ever receive treatment. Nonetheless, in 2018, rehabilitation centers claimed revenue of almost $296 million.

5. Stats on addiction show that 8.5 million American adults have both mental and substance use disorders.

(AAC) (Our World in Data) (Drug Abuse)

NIDA data from 2017 shows that 37.9% out of 20.3 million adults suffering from substance use disorder had a co-occurring mental illness. On the other hand, among the 42.1 million adults with mental illnesses, 18.2% had some type of substance use disorder. What’s more, 74% of adults struggling with a substance use disorder in 2017 also had an alcohol use disorder. Surprisingly, more than half of these individuals (52.5%) received no treatment at all.

6. Addiction stats affirm that 64% of the cases in which pathological gambling co-occurs with alcoholism are due to a genetic disorder.

(NCBI)

When it comes to addictive behavior, there has been research on genetic and environmental factors. By comparing the behavior of both identical and non-identical twins, it was concluded that 64% of the co-occurrence between alcohol use problems and pathological gambling could be tied to genes that affect both of these disorders, meaning that both conditions could have the same genetic origins. Some argue that, similar to this, there is a shared genetic contribution to other substance abuse disorders, as well.

7. Drug statistics show that in 30% of rapes and sexual assaults, the offender is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

(Very Well Mind)

The US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) collected data on violent crimes based on the victim’s estimation of the sobriety of their aggressor. In approximately one-fourth of the cases, the aggressors were evaluated as “under the influence” by their victims. Particularly in the crimes of violence, 24.2% of the offenders were not sober during the commission of these crimes. Furthermore, 30% of rapes and 23.3% of robberies were also committed by perpetrators under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both.

8. Drug abuse facts state that an estimated 473,000 people were incarcerated for seeking drugs.

(PPI)

The BJS report from 2017 revealed that 21% of the incarcerated people in the US committed crimes in order to obtain drugs or money to buy them. 40% of those who committed property crimes and 14% of those incarcerated for violent crimes reported being drug-motivated when committing their most serious offense. By extrapolation of these numbers, an estimation for total drug-related incarcerations shows the figure of 473,000. The report further reveals that two-thirds of the sentenced jail population is drug-dependent compared to just 5% of the general population.

9. Global statistics on addiction in 2016 show that almost 1 in 10 people used the darknet to buy drugs.

(Global Drug Survey)

The Findings from a Global Drug Survey in 2016 showed that 9.3% of the participants had used the darknet to purchase illicit drugs. The most popular among the online purchases were those of MDMA, cannabis, new substances, and LSD. For 5% of online buyers, it was their first time using drugs. Of the participating countries, Finland used the dark web the most (over 45% of drug users), England was second with 24%, followed by the US (18%), and Australia (17%).

Young Adult and Teenage Drug Use Statistics

addiction statistics  

10. 54.1% of first-time drug users are under the age of 18.

(Drug Abuse) (Our World in Data) (Statista)

According to SAMHSA’s estimates, there are, on average, 7,800 new drug users every day, making up for a total of 2.8 million people a year that start using drugs. 54.1% of those are younger than 18 years of age. Further surveys show that in 55.7% of cases, a relative or a friend is the first supplier. Additionally, in 2017, there were almost 180,000 deaths by overdose in the age group 15-49 years, representing more than 50% of the total number. In 2017, in the US, 23% of opiate overdose deaths were registered in the age group 35-44.

11. Almost one-third of teenagers that use e-cigarettes started smoking within six months, nicotine addiction facts from 2016 suggest.

(Drug Abuse)

As the survey led by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows, teens that smoke e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking tobacco. In 2016, 3.6% of 8th graders, 6.3% of 10th graders, and 11.4% of 12th graders started smoking tobacco products. E-cigarette use was reported in 9.5% of 8th graders, 14% of 10th graders, and 16.2% of 12 graders. In 2017, almost one-third of teens (30.7%) that smoked e-cigarettes started smoking tobacco within six months. In contrast to this, only 8.1% of non-users started smoking. Also, boys were two times more likely to smoke e-cigarettes than girls.

12. Drug use statistics reveal that 20.8% of 12th graders are vaping marijuana.

(Drug Abuse)

NIDA statistics dating from 2018 show that the number of young Americans that vaped marijuana that year doubled since 2016. More precisely, 7% of 8th graders, 19.4% of 10th graders, and 20.8% of 12th graders vaped marijuana. The overall use of marijuana in the US increased by 5.3 million new users for the period from 2007 to 2013. In 2013, there were about 19.8 million marijuana users. On this account, the use of other illicit drugs, especially prescription pills, is declining among young adults and teenagers.

13. The most commonly used illegal drug in the United States is marijuana.

(Very Well Mind) (Drug Abuse)

Around 19.4 million Americans older than 12 abused illicit drugs in 2017. Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug, with an estimated 19.8 million users in 2013. In 2018, around 11.8 million young adults reported using marijuana. In the list of illegal drugs, prescription pills were in second place, counting 16.3 million non-medical users annually, out of which 9.9 million were painkiller-users. Cocaine is the third most popular illegal drug with 5.5 million annual users, followed by hallucinogen drugs like ecstasy (5.6 million), methamphetamine (1.9 million), and heroin (808,000).

Opioid Addiction Statistics

addiction statistics

14. In 2017, 68% of the overdose deaths involved an opioid.

(CDC) (CDC) (RCA)

More than 702,000 Americans died due to drug overdose between 1999 and 2017. In 2017, the death toll related to drug abuse was 70,237, representing a 9.6% increase from 2016 in the age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths. Almost 70% of those cases (47,600) involved a prescription or illicit opioid abuse. Statistics show that just 20% of doctors are responsible for 80% of prescription drugs abuse of opioid painkillers. The misuse of these medications is the leading cause of drug-related death in the US.

15. The US accounts for 80% of the world’s consumption of opioid pain relievers, opioid epidemic facts show.

(NCBI)

Even though the US is home to less than 5% of the world’s population, it accounts for the vast majority (80%) of the world’s consumption of opiates as pain relievers. The attention put on pain treatment in the early 1990s greatly contributed to this drug problem in America that reached epidemic proportions. In 2012, there were 259 million prescriptions for opiate painkillers, representing more than one for every American adult. Over the past 20 years, an increasingly diverse US population fell victim to the overprescription phenomenon. Today, Caucasian women are the biggest opioid consumers.

16. Ritalin (methylphenidate hydrochloride) was at the top of the list of the most abused prescription drugs in 2016.

(NCBI) (Statista) (RCA)

The WHO estimates claim that over 2 million Americans suffer from prescription opiate drug dependence. Statistics show that 52 million Americans have, at least once in their lifetime, used prescription painkillers without a medical reason to do so.

The analysis of revenue by medication exposed the 20 prescription drugs for 2016 that have been abused the most, with methylphenidate hydrochloride, sold as Ritalin, at the top. A mild nerve stimulant used for the treatment of ADD and ADHD, Ritalin counted a revenue of over $2 billion, followed by OxyContin with $1.39 billion in revenue, celecoxib ($1.25 billion), and buprenorphine and naloxone ($1 billion).

17. Fentanyl is the deadliest opioid, as shown by opiate addiction statistics for 2016.

(Addiction Center) (Drug Abuse)

In a CDC report from 2016, fentanyl was named the most dangerous opiate drug accountable for the biggest number of overdoses that year –18,335 of opioid-related deaths. In 70% of these cases, fentanyl was part of a deadly mix with other drugs like cocaine. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Other opioids on the list of the most deadly ones are oxycodone, causing 6,199 deaths, methadone (3,493), and hydrocodone (3,199).

18. In 2015, there were 14,875 pregnant women with opioid use disorder, addiction statistics show.

(NCBI) (Statista)

Opioid use among women of childbearing age (15-44 years) in the US has reached an average of 39.4% of the Medicaid-insured and 27.7% of privately insured women. The biggest prevalence of prescription drug abuse was observed among non-Hispanic Caucasian women living in the South.

Moreover, in 2015, the US counted a total of 14,875 pregnant women who were addicted to opioids until delivery. Most of them (9,380) were aged 25-34, 4000 of those were younger than 25, and 1495 of them were older than 34.

19. Opiate addiction recovery statistics show that 72 to 88% of opioid addicts relapse in the 12-36 months following detoxification.

(NCBI) (Drug Abuse)

A one year study (2014-2015) showed that 32-70% of the admitted patients with opiate prescription drug addiction relapse after six months of detox. Early relapse was associated with younger age and greater drug intake prior to the admission. For opiate addiction, the chances of relapse are greater than for any other drug addiction. The total number of those who are likely to relapse is 91%. NIDA statistics show that 59% of opioid addicts are likely to relapse in the first week of sobriety, while 80% would relapse within a month of being discharged.

Alcoholism Statistics

addiction statistics

20. In the US, the number of deaths attributed to alcohol abuse is higher than that of a drug overdose.

(Statista)

CDC data for 2017 attributes around 72,224 deaths to drug overdose, which is 334 deaths less than the alcohol-related numbers reported for this year (72,558). This data confirms that alcohol abuse is the most dangerous substance addiction. Also, deaths related to alcohol are not restricted to overdose – instead, they also include alcohol-induced illnesses, as well as accidents.

21. Global Addiction statistics show that alcohol use disorders cause more deaths than cancer.

(Our World in Data)

Every year, the number of deaths attributed to alcohol and drug use is higher than the total number of cancer-related deaths. Global data on substance abuse from 2017 shows that alcohol was responsible for 184,934 deaths, which happened due to overdose, also known as ethylic coma or alcohol poisoning. Opioid overdose was the cause of 109,520 deaths, making it the second deadliest substance abuse disorder. Finally, 45,270 deaths were attributed to all other illicit drug use, with the exception of cannabis.

22. The number of alcohol-related deaths in the US has doubled in the last 20 years, alcohol abuse statistics confirm.

(Statista) (NY Times)

A study conducted by the NlAAA revealed that in the past 20 years, the number of Americans dying from alcohol-related complications has more than doubled. From almost 36,000 in 1999 to over 72,500 cases of alcohol-related deaths in 2017. In other words, the death rate for this period rose by a staggering 51%, counting the population growth factor. Moreover, these figures are gender-dependent, and they show that men are dying at a higher rate than women, but the number of women rapidly increased during this period.

23. In 2017, El Salvador had the highest death rate related to alcoholism worldwide, alcohol addiction statistics show.

(World Life Expectancy)

Following WHO data from 2017, El Salvador had the highest number of deaths that could be attributed to alcohol consumption (17.56 per 100,000). Russia was second with 14.87 alcohol-related deaths per 100,000, followed by Estonia, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. The lowest numbers of deaths linked to alcohol were noted in Iran (0.11), Fiji (0.15), Singapore and Brunei (0.17). The US was ranked 64th on this list, with 2.26 deaths per 100,000 people.

24. Women alcoholics are twice as likely to die from alcoholism than men, recent alcohol addiction facts state. 

(Live Science)

A 14-year study on the death rate of alcoholics was conducted in northern Germany, involving 4,070 people. 153 participants of this study group were defined as alcoholics and 149 were contacted after 14 years. Results showed that nearly one fifth had died in this period, 7 of the 30 women, and 21 of the 119 men. The calculated death rate for women alcoholics was 1.67% annually, whereas, for men, it was 1.26%. In comparison, the non-alcoholics have 0.36% and 0.66% death rate on the annual level for women and men, accordingly.

25. In 2017, every 48 minutes, a drunk-driving fatality occurred in the US, alcohol statistics reveal.

(Very Well Mind)

According to the NHTSA’s Alcohol-Impaired Driving report for 2017, 19% of the traffic fatalities involving children that were 14 or younger, were due to alcohol-impaired driving. Motorcycle riders were most frequently involved in these accidents, accounting for 27% of them, truck drivers (23%) were the next most frequent cause of accidents, followed by car drivers (21%). Most of the alcohol-related accidents happened at night, and most of the victims were the drunk drivers themselves. In 2017, 10,847 died on the road due to alcohol abuse, out of which 7,368 were drivers with a BAC of .08 and over.

FAQ

What is the most commonly used illicit drug among persons aged 12 and older?

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug, with an estimated 19.8 million users in the US older than 12. In 2018, 11.8 million young American adults used marijuana. The consumption of marijuana in the US increased proportionally with the number of states that legalized it. The second category of most commonly used illicit drugs in America includes prescription opiates with 6.5 million non-medical users annually. Worldwide MDMA, cocaine, amphetamines, LSD, magic mushrooms come before the prescription pills, though cannabis keeps the first place.

How many families in the US are affected by alcoholism?   

It’s important to mention that there are around 9.8 million men and 5.3 million women alcoholics in the US. Estimations show that there are around 28 million children that live with alcoholic parents. Around 11 million of those children are younger than 18. Recent statistics show that around 43% of adults in America (or 76 million individuals) were exposed to alcoholism through their parent, sibling, child, or spouse. Consequently, the economic effect of alcoholism in American society is devastating, accounting for a loss of approximately $223 billion annually.

How many people die from alcohol?  

The scary truth is that almost 2.5 million deaths worldwide are related to the overconsumption of alcohol. Also, several million people that abuse alcohol engage in risky behaviors that can lead to injury.

In the US, around 14 million adults fit the criteria for alcoholism. Following the CDC report for 2010, there were 25,692 alcohol-related deaths in the US that year. There were also 15,990 deaths caused by alcoholic liver disease. So, all in all, there were approximately 80,000 deaths caused by alcohol consumption in 2010.

Conclusion

Tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use leave the planet poorer by millions of people each year. Although the decreasing numbers in alcohol and some illicit drug use show us that there is hope, it seems that this preventable deadly phenomenon called addiction is continuously shifting forms and means to attract the most vulnerable of us. What’s more, the US “opiate debt“ is far from being paid off, as opiates are still the deadliest drug in America. Addiction statistics make us understand and see that substance dependence is a concern of global proportions. Fortunately, efforts are being made to keep the resilient monster called addiction from taking advantage of our vulnerabilities as human beings.

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