Home Health Addiction in the USA: What Are the Statistics?

Addiction in the USA: What Are the Statistics?

Source: medisys

Substance abuse and addiction are disorders that are not limited to a single place or country and are in fact, worldwide problems. No matter whether it is an alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drug addiction, it continues to claim many lives every year.

But how big and serious is the struggle exactly? Let’s take a look at drug and alcohol use statistics to gain a better understanding of just how grave the scale is both in the U.S. and worldwide.

Worldwide Figures

Source: continuum
  • Globally, approximately 275 million people have taken some kind of illicit drug, 192 million of which have used Cannabis.
  • More than 2% of the population is addicted to alcohol or at least one type of illicit drug.
  • In certain countries, over 5% of its population is dependent on alcohol or drugs.
  • Substance use disorders were almost twice as common in men (2.4%) as compared to women (1.2%) in 2016.

Global Addiction Fatality Rate

Source: anthonyfoxi
  • Indirectly, substance use attributes to 11.8 million premature deaths annually.
  • 8.1 million are caused by tobacco, 2.84 million due to alcohol, and 585,000 fatalities because of illicit drug use.
  • In 2017, about 350,000 of the global population died due to substance use, more specifically, 185,000 from alcohol use disorders and 167,000 from illicit drug use disorders.
  • Opioids were responsible for about 110,000 fatalities, cocaine for approximately 7,000 casualties, amphetamines for 4,000, and other drugs for around 46,000 deaths.
  • Over 50% of those who died of any kind of overdose were younger than 50 years of age.

Addiction Statistics in the U.S.

Just like in many places around the world, America is no exception when it comes to battling substance abuse and addiction issues.

General Statistics

Source: medicalxpress
  • Treatment is only received by 10% out of the 21 million Americans who have at least one addiction. Says the experts from definingwellness.com.
  • Of the 15 million people (6% of the population) who suffer from alcohol addiction, only about 7% (1.05 million) receive treatment.
  • Around 90% of all addicts started using or drinking before the age of 18.
  • Addiction to substances is expected to develop in 1 in 7 Americans while 1 in 8 has a severe drinking problem.
  • Out of all the people with a substance abuse disorder, 74% have an alcohol addiction, while 38% suffer from illicit drug addiction.
  • Substance use disorders affect about 20% of people who suffer from depression or anxiety.
  • Drinking under the Influence (DUI) was committed by 34.2 million Americans in 2017, 21.4 million of which drove under alcohol influence while 12.8 million drove under the influence of illicit drugs.
  • When it comes to tobacco, around 34 million Americans are active smokers.
  • Addiction and substance abuse cost the U.S. economy more than $740 billion annually.

U.S. Addiction Fatality Facts

Source: pbs
  • The number of overdose fatalities nearly tripled in the last 30 years.
  • Between 1999 and 2017, there were over 700,000 fatalities caused by overdose.
  • Heroin or opioid overdose claims a life every 19 minutes.
  • Alcohol leads to around 88,000 deaths each year.
  • 38.2% of all overdose fatalities are attributed to opioid painkillers.
  • Substance use disorders contribute to a higher number of casualties than car accidents.

If you would like to read more detailed statistics on substance abuse fatalities in the U.S. or if you are looking for additional information, you can check this and also learn more about other addiction statistics.

The Main Causes of Addiction

Source: cnbc
  • Genes are the strongest biological factor that defines a person’s addictive nature. In fact, hereditary factors attribute to about 50% of a person’s susceptibility to addiction.
  • An unstable living environment and factors such as abuse or having an addicted parent are another major cause of substance use disorders.
  • 29% of individuals who suffer from a mental illness also engage in substance abuse. However, mental illness does not directly lead to addiction, but it can certainly make an individual more susceptible to it.
  • Peer pressure or a community’s views on illicit drug and alcohol use can also lead to substance abuse.

Population Demographics and Addiction Statistics

Source: sbs

Males vs. Females

  • Men who suffered from at least one substance abuse disorder had a higher addiction rate with 9.4% as opposed to women who had about 5.2%.
  • Females are more susceptible to developing a prescription drug addiction, whereas men are more prone to getting addicted to illicit drugs. You can check out NexusRecoveryServices for more details.

Employment Status

  • The number of unemployed individuals struggling with substance abuse is almost twice as high as compared to people who work full-time.
  • 9% of full-time workers and 17% of unemployed people deal with addiction on the daily.


  • About 4% of all adolescents, 14.8% of the young adult population, 6.4% million adults aged 26 and older, and over 1 million individuals the age of 65 or over struggled with some form of addiction in 2017.
  • All age groups except adolescents had a higher rate of alcohol abuse as compared to illicit drug abuse.

Specific Substances and Addiction Statistics

Source: politico


  • Heroin addiction affects some 652,000 individuals in the country with around 494,000 of them being regular users.
  • Approximately 25% of first-time users become addicted to it.
  • In the last 20 years, the usage of heroin has been on the rise.


  • There are about 5 million cocaine users with young adults contributing to the highest user rate percentage.
  • In 2017, a little under one million Americans tried cocaine for the first time while there were over 640,000 cocaine addicts that received treatment that same year.


  • Approximately 965,000 individuals in the U.S. are meth addicts with around 774,000 of them being regular users.
  • Some 195,000 people tried meth in 2017.
  • In that year alone, 10,000 regular users suffered from a fatal overdose. In fact, that number has tripled in just 5 years.


  • One of the leading drug addiction problems is prescription drug abuse with healthcare professionals approving over 191 million opioid prescriptions in 2017 alone.
  • The amount of individuals who misuse prescription medicine is between 20% and 30% as opposed to 15% of healthcare professionals who do the same.
  • The number of opioid users is drastically increasing each year and now there are about 2.1 million Americans who are addicted to the substance.
Source: recoveryranch


In the United States alone, there are more than 14,000 treatment clinics that offer a variety of specialized services. Counselors and other professionals are always readily available to answer any questions and offer their help, so do not hesitate to ask for it if you or someone you know suffer from addiction and are ready to seek help and a way to get better.