Drug Use

Drug Use Statistics and Demographics

According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), drug use and substance abuse are on the rise in the United States among adults, young adults, and adolescents. Substance abuse includes illicit drug use (such as cocaine use and marijuana use), as well as prescription drug (including opioid) misuse. Drug use impacts not just the person using but their loved ones and the nation as a whole. The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS) compiled results of its annual national survey about substance use in the United States which includes demographics by age, gender, race, ethnicity and more:

General Drug Use Statistics:

  • 53 million or 19.4% of Americans in the over-12 age group have used an illegal drug in the last year.

  • 11.7% of Americans in the over-12 age group are regular users of illegal drugs.

  • 39% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 years have used drugs in the last year.

  • 70% of people who try drugs before the age of 13 will develop an addiction within seven years.

  • 47% of youth in the U.S. have used a drug by the time they graduate high school.

  • More than 70,000 drug overdose deaths occur in the U.S. annually.

  • Overdose deaths increased by 30% from 2019 to 2020.

  • 20 million Americans over the age of 12 have a substance use disorder.

Opioid-related statistics:

  • Taking opioids for a period longer than three months increases the chances of developing an addiction by 15 times.

  • In 2015, there were so many opioids prescribed it could medicate every American round the clock for three weeks.

  • In 2018, 51.3% of opioid users got their drugs from a friend or relative.

  • Between 2016 and 2017 the global production of opium increased by 65%.

  • Between 2012 and 2015, there was a 264% increase in opioid overdose deaths from synthetic opioids.

  • In 2017, 67.8% of drug overdose deaths were from opioids.
    • 28,466 fentanyl-related

    • 17,029 prescription opioid-related

    • 15,482 heroin-related

Stimulant-related statistics:

  • In 2018, 1.8 million people in the U.S over the age of 12 reported using meth methamphetamines in the last year.

  • In 2018, 5.5 million people in the U.S. over the age of 12 reported using cocaine in the last year.

  • In 2017, almost one in five overdose deaths were cocaine-related.

Marijuana-related statistics:

  • In 2019, 43% of college students reported using marijuana—the highest rate since 1983.

  • In states where marijuana has been legalized:
    • Marijuana-related ER visits increased by 54%.

    • Suicides in which marijuana was found present in toxicology reports increased from 7.6% in 2006 to 23% in 2017.

General Demographics on Drug Use:

  • 505,000 veterans misuse prescription pain relievers.

  • 59,000 veterans use heroin.

  • Individuals who have previously abused drugs recently released from prisons have the highest risk for overdose from drugs.

  • Ecstasy, cocaine, meth, LSD, ketamine, and other ‘club drugs’ are most frequently used by higher-income youth.

  • Among lower-income groups, inhalants are most commonly abused and these include gasoline, glue, paint, and paint thinner.

  • 6.3 million individuals in the LGBTQ+ community have substance abuse issues, mental health problems, or both.

  • 75% of drug overdose deaths in Americans over the age of 50 years is from opioids

  • Amongst college students who use illegal drugs:
    • 93% use marijuana.

    • 37% use cocaine.

    • 36% use hallucinogens.

  • States with the highest overdose deaths are:
    • West Virginia leads the U.S with the highest rate of overdose deaths; 51.5 deaths per 100,000.

    • Delaware has 43.8 overdose deaths per 100,000.

    • Maryland has 37.2 overdose deaths per 100,000.

    • Pennsylvania has 36.1 overdose deaths per 100,000.

    • Ohio has 35.9 overdose deaths per 100,000.

As evidenced by these statistics and demographics, drug use, drug addiction, and overdose death from drugs are on the rise. It’s vital to spread awareness about the dangers of drug use—even for first-time users. If you or a loved one need help with a drug use problem, Caron can help.

We have multiple treatment facilities and individually tailor our treatment plans for drug use disorder, alcohol use disorder, and other addictive disorders. Treatments may include health services and treatment of co-existing conditions including mental illness. Offering Comprehensive Addiction Treatment, our compassionate team of substance use disorder experts treats each person with respect and offers evidence-based programming to help everyone who comes to us to find recovery—Recovery For Life. Call us today at 1-800-854-6023.

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