skip to Main Content

The Statistics of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse, including both drugs and alcohol, is a disease that affects our entire world. Despite attempts to reduce the number of users or slow down the overall amount of deaths, many experts agree that the war on drugs has not been successful. The fact is that the death toll of overdose continues to climb and the statistics behind the number of incarcerated non-violent men and women for drug use is staggering. 

Because we care, we believe that education plays a critical role in substance abuse prevention and treatment. 

⚠ COVID-19 ⚠

The Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

addiction statistics

September 2020

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, reported opioid deaths escalated 25-50% higher than the previous year.

August 2020

A CDC survey reported that out of the 5,412 respondents, 41% reported symptoms of adverse behavioral health conditions
26% of respondents reported trauma— and stressor-related disorder symptoms related to COVID-19

February 2021

CDC data recorded an influx of emergency department visits between March and October of 2020 found:

Suicide attempt visits: 26% increase
Drug overdose visits: 36% increase 

Shifts In Emergency Call Volumes

Call and text volumes to Disaster Distress Helpline increased considerably during the Covid-19 Pandemic:

April 2020 — call volumes peaked at 9,965 calls — an 890% increase from April 2019
August 2020 — call volume tapered at 3,778 calls — still a 340% increase from August 2019

Effects on Treatment Availability

Additionally, an NCBH survey compiled in August of 2020 recorded that out of the 343 provider networks polled, 52% reported increased demand for treatment.
In February of 2021, NCBH’s new survey data found that the demand for treatment increased to 67%.

Quickfacts: Covid-19 & Alcohol

  • Retail Alcohol Sales: 54% Increase in the 1st week of the Covid-19 Pandemic with steady increase throughout 2020
  • General Consumption: Both men and women reported more days of alcohol and more days of heavy drinking (4+ drinks for women and 5+ drinks for men within a few hours)
  • Consumption Rates in Women: 17% increase in days spent drinking, 44% increase in days spent drinking heavily
addiction statistics
[/vc_row_inner]

Quickfacts: Covid-19 & Drug Overdose Deaths

  • 2020 Drug Overdose Death Rates: ~23% increase in drug overdose deaths compared to 2019 (Vista Research)

Based on this preliminary data, 2020 had the biggest year-to-year increase in fatal drug overdoses in the last 20 years. This is particularly devastating considering the encouraging signs shown between 2018 and 2019 which indicated that fatal drug overdoses were starting to plateau.

Quickstats: Covid-19 and Mental Health

Pandemic-Related Stress Factors

[/vc_row_inner]
  • Fear of Contracting Covid-19
  • Fear of Loved Ones Contracting Covid-19
  • Impact of Isolation
  • Job Loss
  • Financial Concerns
  • Child Care Disappeared
  • Polarized Population
  • Loss of Support System
Addiction Statistics
Addiction Statistics
Addiction Statistics
Addiction Statistics
Addiction Statistics
Addiction Statistics

Mental Distress Rates (PubMed)

[/vc_row_inner]
  • Pre-Covid Anxiety Rates: 6.33%
  • Post-Covid Anxiety Rates: 50.9%

704% Increase

  • Pre-Covid Stress Rates: 8.1%
  • Post-Covid Stress Rates: 81.9%

911% Increase

  • Pre-Covid Depression Rates: 14.6%
  • Post-Covid Depression Rates: 48.3%

231% Increase

  • Pre-Covid PTSD Rates: 7%
  • Post-Covid PTSD Rates: 53.8%

669% Increase

Quickfacts: Addiction Treatment Admissions

FOCUS 1st Time Guests

  • Problematic Drinking Rates
    • 2/3 reported +3 years of problematic drinking
    • 1/4 reported +10 years of problematic drinking
  • Median Age Range
    • 40 years of age (compared to the last five years at 34 years old)

QuickStats: Substance Abuse

  • Addiction in America: In 2021, 23.5 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs.
  • Addiction and Mental Disorders: In 2019, 9.5 million American adults suffer from +1 co-occurring disorders – both substance use disorder and mental health disorders. 20% of Americans with depression or an anxiety disorder have a substance use disorder.
  • Addiction’s effect on Youth: 8.7 million U.S. children 17 or younger have at least one parent with a SUD. 90% of people with a SUD began using drugs or drinking alcohol before 18 years old.
  • Addiction Treatment: 11% of all people suffering from addiction receive treatment.
  • Addiction and Overdose Death: Death from overdose has tripled since 1990.
  • The Cost of Addiction: Substance abuse and addiction cost the United States over $740 billion dollars per year in work efficiency, healthcare expense, and crime. The War on Drugs costs $51 billion annually.

DRUG USE TRENDS 2018-2020

2018 | 2019 | 2020

The Vista Research Group, Inc., a research institute with a focus on addiction and behavioral treatment, monitored guests entering drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers from 2018 to 2020. The data collected indicated the shifts in the top primary drug of choice used by guests.

Primary Drug Of Choice 2018

Primary Drug of Choice 2018

Primary Drug Of Choice 2019

Primary Drug of Choice 2019

Primary Drug Of Choice 2020

Primary Drug of Choice 2020

What Does Drug Use Trends Teach Us?

Between 2018 to 2020, the Vista Research Network collected data on the primary drug of choice of each guest’s substance use disorder. The research indicated a dramatic shift in the drug preference amongst newly admitted guests. Within the 3 year span, heroin/opioid use dropped from 1/3 of guests to 22%. At the same time, the reports of alcohol use disorder (AUD) increased from 37% to exactly 50% of all SUDs entering an addiction treatment program.

Vista’s data collection on the primary drug of choice indicates the current environment of substance use disorders. The development in prevalent drug abuse suggests a relatively sudden change occurred within society. By identifying the fluctuation in opioid use and noting the spike in alcohol use disorders, medical professionals know to analyze potential stressors, triggers, and events that lead to a shift in substance abuse. In this particular instance, Covid-19 acted as a catalyst of the full-blown AUD in many previously functioning heavy alcoholics. As a result, people that had a handle on their alcohol dependence lost their grasp and required the assistance of addiction treatment.

DRUG FACTS & STATISTICS

Table of Contents:

AlcoholOpioidsHeroinOpiatesStimulantsMethCocaineCrackBenzodiazepines
Drug IncarcerationAlcohol and Drug Rehab

Alcohol Use Disorder Statistics

Alcoholism is the most widely consumed and abused substance in our country but is very rarely treated. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is highly toxic to the body and can even be lethal. AUD detox is considered the most difficult as well as dangerous to the body because of the powerful, potentially fatal withdrawal side effects.

Statistics on Alcohol abuse:

  • Around 74% of the adults suffering from a substance use disorder in 2017 also struggled with an alcohol use disorder.
  • In 2017, nearly 1 million elder adults aged 65+ struggled with alcoholism.
  • Nearly 88,000 people die every year as a result of alcohol abuse in our country.
  • Approximately 30 Americans die every day from drunk driving and 6 die every day from alcohol poisoning.
  • Roughly half of all liver disease cases are directly related to alcohol abuse.
  • Around 40% of all hospital beds in America are used to treat alcohol-related illnesses or injuries.

All of these devasting statistics illustrate the dangers of alcoholism. In fact, alcohol use disorder is the third most lethal cause of preventable death in the country.

Opiates and Opioid Use Disorder Statistics

Drug overdose is the number one leading cause of accidental death in the United States, but statistically speaking, opiates and prescription painkillers are leading those numbers. The so-called Opioid Crisis has become a key player in the war on drugs.

Numbers on Opiates and Opioid use disorder:

    • In 2012, doctors wrote enough opioid prescriptions to give a bottle to every American adult in the country – around 259 million.
    • Adolescents are large users of pain medications with 276,000 persons under the age of 17 using prescription painkillers for non-medicinal purposes in 2015.
    • Most opiate users get their drug supply from friends, family, or the household medicine cabinet.
    • In 2015 more than 63% of all drug overdose was due to opioid abuse.
    • Fentanyl officially now kills more Americans than heroin.

Deaths continue to rise steadily, as does use, regardless of the data and facts to prove the addictive nature of opiates and pain medication.

Heroin Addiction

Heroin is a commonly known street drug, that is typically taken in injection form. Statistically speaking, many heroin users actually start out using prescription painkillers. Due to the nature of heroin use, the risk of blood diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis is very common.

Facts about Heroin abuse:

      • Heroin use in young adults between 18-25 has doubled in the last decade.
      • In 2017, there were about 650,000 people with a heroin abuse disorder over the age of 12.
      • 80% of heroin users start out by abusing prescribed opiates.
      • In 2017, more than 15,000 American men and women died from a heroin overdose.
      • The most common user demographic of heroin include white males aged 18-25.

Prescription Opiate Abuse

Powerful painkiller medication prescriptions are written by doctors daily. These doctors tend to dole out prescriptions without providing their patients with the proper education to make sure they know the risks. Many doctors are also not trained or well equipped to deal with the potential or eventual risk of addiction associated with prescription opiates.

Data on prescription opiates:

      • 94% of opioid users that were polled state that they choose to use heroin over prescription opiates because it is easier to obtain and cheaper.
      • Issues with painkillers result in more than 360,000 ER visits yearly.
      • In 2017, doctors wrote 191 million opioid prescriptions – a slight decline historically.
      • In 2017, 47,600 fatal overdoses included prescription opioids.

Stimulant Use Disorder Statistics

Stimulants, such as cocaine, meth, or crack are widely abused throughout every demographic. However, in recent years, young adults and adolescents have been abusing stimulant drugs in the form of prescription ADHD medications such as Adderall. These medications are much easier for the youth to obtain than street drugs and still have similar effects.

Stats on stimulants:

      • In 2011, there were 21 million stimulant prescriptions written for youth aged 10-19, but only 25 million youth in that age range.
      • Prescription stimulant use is on the rise with about 16 million abusers in 2017.
      • Death from overdose resulting from some form of stimulant use was about 17,000 in 2016.

Meth Addiction

Methamphetamines addiction and fatality are also on the rise. Meth is a highly addictive controlled substance that is typically burned and smoked. The effects of the drug are extremely detrimental to the user’s physical wellbeing, especially hygiene, nutrition, and dental health.

Meth statistics and facts:

      • Around 964,000 Americans suffer from meth addiction.
      • Meth overdoses have more than tripled in the last 10 years.
      • In 2016, the average age of a meth user was 23 years old.
      • The effects of meth come on and leave very quickly – causing most users to “Binge and Crash”.

Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine, typically taken by snorting, is a more common street stimulant. This is typically a younger person’s drug, with most users being under the age of 25. Millions of Americans try or use cocaine at least once every year, with many of them being under the age of 18.

Facts for Cocaine abuse:

        • In 2017, there were about 966,000 American’s over the age of 12 with cocaine addiction.
        • About 637,000 of them received treatment that same year for cocaine.
        • 20% of all overdose deaths in 2017 involved cocaine.
        • Younger adults tend to use cocaine more than elder adults.
        • Cocaine is most commonly abused by young white males who are employed full-time, with college degrees.

Crack Addiction

Crack is a derivative of cocaine, used by boiling cocaine with other toxic substances and then using the byproducts to get high. This results in an extremely addictive, highly toxic, and a very intense stimulant drug. It is almost always smoked and delivers an almost immediate euphoric effect.

Facts about Crack:

        • More than 9 million people have reported using crack at some point in their lifetime.
        • In 2015, around 900,000 people over the age of 12 were living with crack addiction.
        • Nearly double the number of males abuse crack as opposed to females.

Benzodiazepine Use Disorder Statistics

Benzodiazepines, more commonly known as Benzos, are typically prescribed controlled substances and sedatives used to treat anxiety or depression. Typically known as Xanax, Ativan, or Valium, these are regular medications prescribed by doctors every day. They work to calm nerve impulses, which helps to calm anxiety.

Statistics for Benzo abuse:

        • About 44% of users will become dependent on benzos.
        • Tolerance can form before even 6 months of regular prescribed use.
        • Even when not abused, withdrawal from the drug is extremely painful and dangerous.
        • About 31% of persons over the age of 65 are prescribed benzos – and there is a strong correlation between the medication and Alzheimer’s.
        • The risk of neurodegeneration is about 84% higher for those on benzos, vs not using them.


Drug Incarceration Facts

It is no secret that the United States has the most incarcerated men and women for substance abuse in the world. The numbers behind these incarcerations are alarming and staggering. Many experts believe that this is a big failure by the war on drugs, as rather than rehabilitate, people are instead locked away and punished, even if they cause no harm to persons or property.

Drug incarceration statistics:

        • Every 25 seconds, an American is arrested for possession of drugs.
        • This has tripled since 1980 – getting to nearly 1.3 million arrests per year.
        • 20% of all imprisoned individuals have a drug charge.
        • Over 1 million Americans are on probation or parole for drug-related charges.
        • Incarceration has shown no positive impact on substance abuse, but in fact, a high impact on overdosing. Most users immediately return to using upon release from prison and end up dead from an overdose.

Alcohol and Drug Rehab Information

While many people believe that rehab for substance abuse is only for the wealthy, drug abuse treatment is for everyone in need. It is not the type of program you only look for after rock bottom, but in fact, as soon as you have made the conscious decision that you want to live a healthier life. The statistics on this page should only help end the stigma, educate yourself and provide support or ask for help instead. Anyone at any point in their addiction should receive treatment if they want to recover safely.

Substance Abuse Treatment facts:

        • Many rehabilitation centers offer private rooms for the guest’s comfort.
        • Though there are treatment groups and facilities that offer religion-based programs and non-religious programs.
        • Most accredited organizations recommend that you do a safe, medically assisted detox as your first step to manage painful withdrawal. “Cold turkey” is not a health-conscious, safe method of quitting.
        • Most treatment facilities do not look or feel like a sterile, hospital environment. In fact, many are vibrant and lively with very pleasant amenities.
        • Contrary to belief, if you are employed you may elect to use FMLA or similar allowances to enter drug or alcohol detox without risking the loss of your job.

Reach Out

If you or a loved one has a dependency or addiction to any substance, please reach out to us about your detox and treatment options. Royal Life Centers admissions staff is available 24/7 to answer your questions and substance use disorders and address your concerns. We can be reached at (877)-RECOVERY or 877-732-6837. Because We Care.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out” 

– Robert Collier

Our team of addiction specialists make themselves available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Because We Care.

Take a Look at Our Recent Blog Posts

Opioid Addiction Rates Drop As Alcohol Abuse Soars

While guest-reported substance use disorders may vary between treatment locations, the over-arching data trend is…

Addicted Parents
Ways To Help Addicted Parents
Ways To Help Addicted Parents

It’s utterly devastating to watch a parent fall victim to addiction. Addiction leads to pain…

DBT Vs CBT
DBT Vs CBT
DBT Vs CBT

Today, addiction treatment utilizes several different techniques to promote mental healing in addition to physical…

What is the food like in drug rehab?
What is the food like in drug rehab?

We realize the importance of good nutrition in early recovery, which is why all Royal…

Start Sobriety
How To Start Your Recovery in 2021
How To Start Your Recovery in 2021

So you’ve decided to start recovery in 2021. Congratulations! The first step to start your…

Adult Children Of Alcoholics, Alcoholic Parents
Parents Passing Down Addiction
Parents Passing Down Addiction

Hello, my name is Allie Kraska, Content Creator for Royal Life Centers. Member of ACOA…

Overcoming Stigmas of Addiction to Drugs and Alcohol

Even with all of the advances in modern medicine today, and wealth of information that…

Back To Top