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Adult Addiction Statistics, Facts & Demographics

About 74% of adults with a substance abuse disorder also have problems with alcoholism.

Dr. Elizabeth Drew

Overview of Adult Addiction Statistics

  • Based on a 2017 survey, there are 19 million US adults that have a substance abuse disorder of some form.
Based on a 2017 survey, there are 19 million US adults that have a substance abuse disorder of some form.
  • About 74% of adults with a substance abuse disorder also have problems with alcoholism.
  • 38% of adults 12 and older battle an illegal drug use disorder.
  • In 2017, one out of every eight adults have drug and alcohol abuse disorders at the same time.
  • 8.5 million US adults have a substance and mental health disorder simultaneously.
  • Drug addiction and abuse costs over $740 billion in yearly expenses, which comprises lost money from a lack of productivity, expenses related to healthcare, and costs associated with crime.
  • 13% of US adults that are 12 and older have done drugs within the last 30 days, which is a nearly 4% year-over-year rise.
  • 59 million people in the US, representing 21% of the total population, use illegal drugs or have misused prescription drugs in the last 12 months.
  • 50% of the US population, about 138 million people under the age of 12, have consumed illegal drugs at some point in their life.
  • Usership of drugs for people 12 years and older has gone down 0.4% year-over-year.
  • 138 million US citizens 12 and older have drunk alcohol at some point.
  • 20% of Americans, representing 28 million people, have a disorder related to alcoholism.
  • 57 million Americans consume tobacco products with nicotine in them.
  • 25% of the consumers of illegal drugs have a drug use disorder.
  • 24% of people with drug disorders also carry an opioid disorder, including from the use of prescription painkillers and street heroin.

Types of Adult Addictions

Opioid Addictions

  • About 9 million Americans representing 3.4% of the population have misused opioids at least once in a period lasting 12 months.
  • Yearly users of opioids for Americans 12 and older have decreased by 8% between 2019 and 2020.
  • 2 million Americans or about 1% of the population that’s 12 and older meet the criteria for opioid use disorder.
  • 9 million people who misuse opioids take prescription painkillers.
  • About 745,000 people, or 7% of opioid misusers, have abused heroin. 404,000 people use heroin and prescriptions.
  • Hydrocodone is the most popular prescription opioid around, with an estimated 5.1 million people currently misusing the drug.
  • Consuming opioids for a period that lasts longer than three months significantly boosts the risk of someone getting addicted by 15 times. The average person requires no more than a week’s worth of medications for pain relief.
  • The nationwide opioid rate of prescriptions filled hit a peak in 2012 with more than 255 million. This averages 81 prescriptions for every 100 people.
  • In 2015, opioid prescriptions were being written enough to provide all Americans with 5 milligrams of hydrocodone every four hours for a period lasting three weeks.
  • In 2018, the number of prescriptions lowered to 51 for every 100 people.
  • In 11% of American countries, there are enough opioid prescriptions dispensed for all residents to have at least one.
  • In 2018, there were 51% of Americans given prescription painkillers by relatives and friends.
  • From 2016 to 2017, worldwide opium production increased by over 10,000 tons or about 65%.
  • Opium production in Afghanistan climbed to 9,000 tons annually, and rise by 87% from 2016 to 2017.
  • 75% of the opium poppy that’s cultivated is done in Afghanistan, with Helmand Province having the highest yield.

Narcotic Addiction

  • Opioids that are naturally sourced come from the poppy plant.
  • Synthetic opioids are produced in laboratories, such as meperidine, methadone, and fentanyl.
  • Opioids classified as semi-synthetic are created from natural sources and may contain morphine codeine, heroin, oxycodone, hydromorphone, or hydrocodone.
  • The street names for opioids are horse, mud, smack, junk, oxy, heroin, and many others.
  • In 2018, less than 1% of people, or about 808,000 individuals, admitted to using heroin in the last 12 months.
  • Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, was approved by the FDA for use as an anesthetic and pain relief. It ranks as one of the most dangerous and abused narcotics.

Depressant Addiction

  • Depressant medications and benzodiazepines like Valium, Xanax, Halcion, and Klonopin are prescribed at higher rates than earlier barbiturates.
  • Rohypnol, a depressant, isn’t legal in the US but is more often used with cocaine as an aid for criminals to commit sex crimes.
  • Sedative medications such as Ambien, Quaalude, and Sonata are been prescribed for insomnia.
  • In 2018, 2% of people in the US representing 5.7 million in total had misused prescription tranquilizers.
  • In 2018, less than 1% of people representing 1 million in total reported the misuse of sedatives prescribed to them.
  • 86% of Americans 18 and over admit to drinking alcohol at some time during their life.
  • 70% of Americans have consumed alcohol in the last 12 months.
  • 58% of Americans have reported drinking alcohol in the last 30 days.
  • Of the 15 million people in the US with alcohol use disorder, at least 8% of them have been given some form of treatment.
  • Alcohol consumption among children between 12 and 17 years old grew by 4% between 2018 and 2019, yet declined among all other age groups.

Cannabis Addiction

47 million people representing about 18% out of the total US population over 18 have consumed cannabis once more in the last 12 months.
  • Cannabis use for people 18 and older increased by nearly 4% between 2019 and 2020.
  • Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level but 15 states have legalized its recreational use. The sale of marijuana reached over $14 billion in 2019. At the end of 2023, sales are expected to be $30 billion or more.
  • 30% of people that use cannabis may exhibit varying levels of marijuana use disorder. One out of every six users that began before reaching 18 will become addicted.
  • In 2019, 43% of students at college used marijuana, representing a group with the largest consumption rates of the drug since the early 1980s.
  • Cannabis is often used alongside other drugs, such as alcohol. Alcohol is known to increase the effects of cannabis and increase THC absorption.
  • When cannabis is used with other drugs, the risk of dependency increases, along with behaviors deemed high-risk.
  • Cannabis users that have preexisting health conditions that take multiple drugs with marijuana increase their risk of harm done to their bodies.
  • Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome can lead to numerous health problems that may occur later in a person’s life.
  • Concentrated marijuana can potentially contain THC concentrations between 40% and 90%, which is up to four times greater than THC levels in cannabis buds. Such concentrates are known to be harmful to people that aren’t aware of the high THC levels.
  • Synthetic cannabinoids such as Spice and K2 are sold as low-price alternatives to marijuana, yet are more dangerous.
  • In states where marijuana was legal in 2018, visits to an emergency room have risen by 54%, with hospitalizations increasing by more than 100%.
  • Marijuana has increasingly been found in the bodies of people that have committed suicide, from 7% and 2006 to 23% ten years later.
  • In the state of Colorado, taxpayers spend $5 for every $1 made in tax revenue. Additionally, 2016 DUI expenses where marijuana was involved amounted to $25 million.

Stimulant Addictions

  • Less than 1% of people totaling 1.8 million individuals in the US older than 12 have done meth in the last year.
  • One out of five deaths related to drug overdose in 2017 was from cocaine.
One out of five deaths related to drug overdose in 2017 was from cocaine.
  • Cocaine overdose is highest among black non-Hispanic populations.
  • From 2012 to 2018, cocaine overdose rates rose from 1% to 4%.
  • The majority of the meth that’s sold in America is produced and distributed by Mexican drug traffickers.
  • In 2013, less than 5,000 deaths were related to cocaine use. In 2016, 10,000 deaths were related to a cocaine overdose.
  • The majority of cocaine is made in Columbia, which cultivates 90% of the cocaine powder sold in America. It most often is trafficked into the US from Mexico.
  • Cheaper synthetic cathinones are sold as cocaine and meth alternatives, which can potentially be more harmful and dangerous.
  • MDPV is a common drug found in people visiting emergency rooms that have taken bath salts.

Adult Addiction Rates Per Year

  • 9 million Americans representing 3.8% of people over 18 have a mental illness and substance abuse disorder.
  • Substance use disorders impact 20 million people in the US that are 12 and older.
  • The most common substance abuse disorder with prescription painkillers is cannabis consumption.
  • 3.5 million people are impacted by major depressive episodes, with 4.6 million young adults having them countrywide.
  • There are 51 million Americans over 18 with a mental illness. This is about 20% of the total population.
  • 13 million US adults have a mental illness that’s classified as serious.
  • 358,000 people, about 1.5% of all teenagers, had a substance use disorder and major depressive episodes in the last year.
  • 1% of teenagers with MDE and SUD will have it end in impairment that’s severe.
  • 8% of teenagers with MDE are more at risk of binge drinking than other teens.
  • 32% of teens with ME are more at risk of using illegal drugs.

Adult Addiction Rates by State

  • West Virginia is the higher overdose death rate, with 51 deaths for every 100,000 persons.
  • Delaware has 43 deaths for every 100,000 people.
  • Maryland has an overdose rate of 37 deaths for every 100,000 persons.
  • Pennsylvania is the fourth highest, with 36 per-capita overdose deaths.
  • Fifth is Ohio with 35 ODs for every 100,000 residents.

Adult Addiction Rates by Gender

  • 22% of men have taken drugs in the last 12 months.
  • About 17% of women have consumed drugs in the last 12 months.
  • 4% of men have abused opioids, with 3.5% of women doing the same.
  • 0.2% of women have taken heroin and 0.5% of men have done the same.
  • 3% of men have abused prescription drugs while 3% of women have as well.

Adult Addiction Treatments

  • Medication-assisted treatment has increased by 13% in the last year.
  • In 2018, 19 million Americans older than 12 required treatment for substance abuse.
  • Florida forbade healthcare providers from giving prescription opioids from office locations in 2010, which resulted in a 50% decline in overdoses from oxycodone.
  • New York mandated that prescribers of medication must adhere to the state’s PDMP before dispensing, which caused a 75% decrease in people visiting multiple doctors to receive the same medications.


  1. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/rehab-guide/addiction-statistics
  2. https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/addiction-statistics/
  3. https://drugabusestatistics.org/
  4. https://www.crossrivertherapy.com/research/addiction-statistics
  5. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/10-percent-us-adults-have-drug-use-disorder-some-point-their-lives
Dr. Elizabeth Drew
Medical Director

Medical Director Dr. Elizabeth Drew graduated from Hahnemann University School of Medicine and completed her family practice residency at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown PA. In 2005, she opened her family medicine office in Doylestown, and in 2008 she treated her first patient for opiate addiction.

Since then Dr. Drew has attained her board certification in Addiction Medicine, treated more than a thousand patients for addiction to opiates and alcohol, participated in programs to educate the community, traveled to Washington DC to educate our legislators, and served as Medical Director at some of the best addiction treatment programs in Pennsylvania.

She understands that addiction is a chronic disease that no one would choose to have, and her treatment philosophy is based on respect, compassion, and empowerment. She is excited to be the Medical Director of MPower Wellness and work to provide superior addiction treatment in Chester County.

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