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Human beings have been dealing with addiction and substance abuse as long as there have been addictive substances to abuse. What changes over time is both the kinds of addiction people deal with, and how it affects our modern society.
We also change our attitudes towards different substances. Only a century ago, alcohol was prohibited under law while today its consumption is almost universally accepted. Similarly, legal and social consideration of marijuana has become more relaxed — first for medicinal and therapeutic use, and in some states recreational.
On the other hand, opioids and prescription painkillers are modern creations. On top of that, some specific drugs have only been invented in the last decade or two, and we are only just grasping with how addictive they can be, why, and how to treat it.
These attitudes affect how different substances are used and abused over time. If you want to know more about the most recent statistics and trends about rehab that shows how different substances are affecting America today, we have you covered here.
Table of Contents
- Drug and alcohol use
- Causes of addiction
- Demographics of addiction
Drug and Alcohol Use
There are many substances that people can be addicted to. In general, there are a handful of substance groups that have covers the majority of addictions. All figures cited below are taken from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Before we delve into specific rehab statistics and trends, here is a general summary on the state of substance addiction in America:
- Approximately 19.7 million Americans over 12 years old reported some type of substance abuse in 2017.
- Of that group, 74% reported alcohol abuse, 38% reported drug abuse, and around 13% reported abuse of both drugs and alcohol.
Recreational / Party Drugs
- Approximately 1.6 million Americans over 12 years old reported methamphetamine abuse as of 2017.
- 964,000 of those reported “clinically significant impairment” from overuse.
- National admissions to public rehab centers for meth abuse dropped between 2005 to 2015 from 68 per 100,000 people to 49.
- 70 percent of local law enforcement groups in the pacific and midwestern regions of the US reported that methamphetamine poses the largest drug problem in their area.
- Between 2007 to 2017, overdose deaths from the drug category that includes methamphetamines increased by 7.5 times.
- Approximately 966,000 Americans over 12 years old reported cocaine abuse as of 2017.
- Over 600,000 received rehab or treatment for cocaine addiction.
- Approximately 652,000 Americans over 12 years old reported heroin abuse as of 2017.
- Almost 25% of people who abuse heroin will become addicted.
- Use and addiction of heroin has increased in the last 20 years.
- Approximately 4.1 million Americans over 12 years old reported marijuana abuse as of 2017.
- Over 50% of people who reported marijuana addiction were between 12 and 25 years old.
- The number of people reporting misuse disorder of marijuana has been trending down from 2002 to 2017, most significantly in the age 12 to 17 group.
- Approximately 1.7 million Americans over 12 years old reported prescription pain relief drug abuse as of 2017.
- People who entered rehab for prescription opioids were on average about 5 years younger than individuals admitted solely for heroin abuse or dependency.
- Approximately 14.5 million Americans over 12 years old reported alcohol abuse as of 2017.
- Over half of all American adults have a family history of problem drinking or alcohol addiction.
- Approximately 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes annually, and it is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
Causes of Addiction
More research and studies have been done into the potential causes of addiction, especially for more modern drugs. There are a few general causes for addiction, usually connected to specific kinds of substances. Here are some trends and statistics around the causes and risk factors of addiction.
All statistics and figures below are taken from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH)’s report on the science of addiction.
- A person’s genetics have been found to account for an estimated 40% to 60% of their risk of addiction.
- For alcohol specifically, more than 50% of American adults have a family history of alcohol abuse and addiction.
- During early childhood, having parents or other family members who abuse substances at home increases the chances that the child will develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol in the future.
- During teenage and early adult years when they are still in school, associating with friends and peers who abuse substances increases their chances of developing an addiction even if they have no other risk factors.
- For prescription painkillers, women have an increased risk of developing an addiction.
- This may be due to the larger chance that women have chronic pain and get prescribed painkillers in larger doses than men, increasing the risk of developing an addiction.
- Approximately 8.5 million American adults reported that they had both a mental health disorder and were addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.
- Teenagers who suffer from a mental health disorder have an increased risk for developing an addiction.
Demographics of Addiction
There is a noticeable difference in the different substances and behaviors around addiction within distinct demographic groups. The most notable demographic groups that seem to have an effect on a person’s potential addiction seem to be their age, gender, and ethnicity. Learn more demographic statistics and trends for drug and alcohol addiction.
All figures cited below are taken from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
12-17 years old
- Approximately 992,000 American teenagers in this age group reported that they had a substance abuse disorder in 2017.
- That is roughly 4% of the total population in this age group.
- While alcohol abuse is more common among the general population, teenagers have the reverse: approximately 741,000 teenagers in this age group reported drug abuse disorder, while 443,000 reported alcohol abuse disorder.
18-25 years old
- Approximately 5.1 million young American adults in this age group reported that they had a substance abuse disorder in 2017.
That is roughly 14% of the total population in this age group.
- Approximately 3.4 million young American adults in this age group reported that they had an alcohol abuse disorder, while 2.5 million reported they had a drug abuse disorder.
- Americans in this age group reporting heroin abuse has doubled in the past decade.
26+ years old
- Approximately 13.6 million American adults in this age group reported they had a substance abuse disorder in 2017.
- That is roughly 6.4% of the total population in this age group.
- Approximately 10.6 million young American adults in this age group reported that they had an alcohol abuse disorder, while 4.3 million reported they had a drug abuse disorder.
65+ years old
- Approximately 1 million American seniors in this age group reported they had a substance abuse disorder in 2017.
- Approximately 978,000 American seniors reported they had alcohol abuse disorder, while 93,000 reported they had drug abuse disorder.
- Two-thirds of the population over the age of 65 who struggle with alcohol use disorders developed the disorder before age 65.
- In 2017, about 9.4% of men and 5.2% of women age 12 and older had a substance use disorder.
- Men may be more likely to abuse drugs than women, but women may be just as prone to addiction as men when they do abuse them.
- Women are more likely to develop an addiction to prescription painkillers.
All figures cited in this section are taken from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s detailed tables of their National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
- The highest rate of addiction among an ethnic group in the USA are Native Americans and Alaska Natives, with 12.8% reporting a substance abuse disorder.
- 7.7% of Caucausian Americans reported a substance abuse disorder.
- 6.8% of African Americans reported a substance abuse disorder.
- 6.6% of Latino or Hispanic Americans reported a substance abuse disorder.
- 4.6% of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders reported a substance abuse disorder.
- 3.8% of Asian Americans reported a substance abuse disorder.