skip to Main Content

Addiction Facts & Statistics

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 numbers 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. 

General Substance Abuse Facts

  • Drug abuse and addiction costs the United States more than $740 billion dollars per year in work efficiency, healthcare expense and crime.
  • In 2017, more than 8 million Americans suffered from co-occurring disorders – both substance abuse and mental health disorders.
  • Substance abuse starts young. In 2017, about 19 million Americans over the age of 12 battled with substance abuse.
  • In 2017, about 38% of adults struggled with addiction.
  • Death from overdose has tripled since 1990.

Facts about Alcoholism

Alcoholism is the most widely consumed and abused substance in our country, but is very rarely treated. Alcohol addiction is highly toxic to the body and can even be lethal. Detoxing from an alcohol addiction is considered to be the most difficult as well as much dangerous to the body because of how powerful the side effects of withdrawal are.

Some specific statistics about 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.
  • On Average, about 30 Americans die everyday from drunk driving and 6 die everyday from alcohol poisoning.
  • Close to half of all liver disease is directly related to alcohol abuse.
  • Around 40% of all hospital beds in America are used to treat alcohol related illness or injury.
  • All of those combine to make alcohol abuse the third most lethal cause of preventable death in the country.

Facts about Opiates

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 an enormous criminal in the war on drugs. Deaths continue to rise steadily, as does use, regardless of the data and facts to prove the addictive nature of opiates and pain medication.

Some quick numbers on opiates as a whole:

    • 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 supply from friends, family or just in 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.


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, 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 heroin overdose.
      • The most common user demographic of heroin includes white males aged 18-25.

Prescription Opiates

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.

Some facts about 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.

Statistics about Stimulants

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.


Methamphetamines addiction and fatality is 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 users 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, typically taken by snorting, is a more common street stimulant. This is typically a younger persons 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.

Some statistics and facts about cocaine:

        • In 2017, there were about 966,000 American’s over the age of 12 with a 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 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 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.

Statistics about Benzos

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 impulse, which helps to calm anxiety.

Here are some of the shocking facts and statistics for benzos:

        • 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.
        • Risk of neurodegeneration is about 84% higher for those on benzos, vs not using them.

Statistics about Cannabis

Though marijuana is getting closer to legal status in the majority of the United States, the fact remains that it is not a harmless substance. Studies show that addiction to marijuana is a very real affliction, targeting mostly our youth. Here at Royal Life Centers, we have program specifically targeting marijuana abuse treatment.

Statistics on Marijuana Use:

        • Around 4 million Americans over the age of 12 battle with marijuana addiction.
        • Almost 6% of all full-time college students state that they are daily users of marijuana.
        • In 2018, about 11 million young adults stated that they used marijuana.
        • More teens use marijuana that cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and all other drugs combined.
        • Despite appearing harmless, the number of hospitalizations involving marijuana use continues to rise.

Facts about Drug Incarceration

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.

Here are the painful statistics about drug incarcerations:

        • 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, high impact on overdosing. Most users immediately return to using upon release from prison, and end up dead from overdose.

Facts about Rehab

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.

Here are some other quick facts about substance abuse treatment:

        • Many rehabilitation centers offer private rooms for the comfort of their guests.
        • Though there are treatment groups and programs with a religious backdrop, there are many where religion is not the focus.
        • 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 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 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


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…

CBD: A Game Changer?
CBD: A Game Changer?

CBD: An In-depth Look In all likelihood, you have probably heard the word ‘CBD’ thrown…

Financial Planning: Reducing Debt
Financial Planning: Reducing Debt

Reducing Your Debt So, you’ve taken time to review your budget and you’ve made cuts…

Surviving Quarantine Fatigue
Surviving Quarantine Fatigue

Our Lives Have Changed Back in December, did you get a little bit excited to…

Back To Top