Addiction is a chronic mental disorder that affects the brain and involves motivation and reward. It is the inability to stop using a substance or engaging in behaviors, despite knowing they cause physical and psychological harm. Drug and alcohol addiction impacts millions of Americans each year.

  • More than 20 million people in the U.S. have an addiction. Yet only 10% of these people receive any addiction treatment.
  • Drug and alcohol addiction costs the United States an estimated $600 billion each year.
  • The highest prevalence of drug use is in Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 years.
  • More than 9 out of 10 people with an addiction started drinking or using drugs before age 18.

Alcohol Abuse and Addiction Statistics

  • Over 85% of Americans above the age of 18 report drinking alcohol at some point in their lifetime.
  • Some 14.5 million people over the age of 12 have alcohol use disorder. This includes more than 400,000 youth aged 12–17 years.
  • One in four Americans engage in binge drinking (drinking that takes the blood alcohol levels to 0.08 g/L or above, which usually happens after 4 or more drinks in women and 5 or more drinks in men, consumed in roughly two hours).
  • Over 6% of men and women in the U.S. report heavy drinking (more than 4 drinks in a day or 14 drinks in a week for men, and 3 drinks in a day or 7 drinks in a week for women).
  • In 2017, there were 2.3 million first-time users of alcohol in the 12–17 age group, and 2.4 million first-time users in the 18–25 age group in America.
  • An emerging trend in alcohol consumption in America is high-intensity drinking (consuming 2 or more times the gender-specific threshold for binge drinking, i.e., 8 or more standard drinks in women and 10 or more standard drinks in men). People who practice high-intensity drinking at 3 times the gender thresholds are up to 93 times more likely to have an emergency department visit related to alcohol.
  • Some 34 million Americans were booked for DUIs in 2017, of which around 21 million were for alcohol and around 13 million for driving under the influence of drugs.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment Statistics

  • Less than 7.5% of people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) received any treatment within the past year. Less than 4% of people with AUD receive a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved prescription medication for alcohol use disorder.
  • Roughly 18.5% of all ED visits have alcohol as a contributing factor.
  • Between 2006 and 2014, the rate of ED visits related to alcohol use increased by 47%. This means there were about 210,000 additional ED visits every year.

Statistics on Alcohol-Related Deaths

  • Nationwide, alcohol claims around 88,000 lives each year in the U.S. This makes alcohol the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.
  • There are some 10,000 deaths each year due to alcohol-impaired driving. This constitutes 28% of all driving fatalities.
  • 30 Americans die every day on average from an alcohol-related motor vehicle crash. There are 6 daily deaths on average from alcohol poisoning.

Statistics on the Cost of Alcohol Abuse

  • Alcohol costs the U.S. nearly $250 billion (2010 figure) each year. Three quarters of this cost is due to binge drinking.

U.S. Alcohol Statistics in Adolescents and Young Adults

  • More than 10% of children (7.5 million kids) in America aged 17 years and younger live with a parent who has alcohol use disorder.
  • Nearly 40% of adolescents and young adults between 12 and 20 years old have had at least one alcoholic drink in their lifetime.
  • Roughly 11% of the 12–20 age group, or 4.2 million young people, report binge drinking within the past month, and 825,000 report heavy alcohol use in the past month.
  • Nearly 30% of young adults aged 18 to 22 report binge drinking.
  • An estimated 8.1% of young adults between 18 and 22 years meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder.
  • From 2002 to 2019, there was a positive trend in underage drinking, with past-30-day alcohol use decreasing by roughly 40–60% in 12- to 17-year-olds.
  • Alcohol causes thousands of deaths in people under the age of 21, including motor vehicle crashes, homicides, falls, drowning, burns, overdose, and suicides.

Alcohol and Pregnancy Statistics in the U.S.

  • Roughly 1 in 10 pregnant women in the age group of 15 to 44 years have used alcohol in the past month.
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome is prevalent at a rate of 0.5 to 3.0 cases per 1,000 in the United States.
  • An estimated 1–5% of first graders in the U.S. have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Alcohol and Health Statistics

  • In 2019, nearly 86,000 deaths due to liver disease involved alcohol.
  • Roughly half of all deaths due to cirrhosis are alcohol-related. These deaths are highest among the 25–34 age group.
  • Alcohol-related liver disease was the primary cause of liver transplants in the U.S. from 2010 to 2016, accounting for almost one in three transplants.

Illicit Drug Use Statistics in the United States

  • Almost 12% of Americans over the age of 12 use illegal drugs. Approximately 20% of Americans (53 million people) report using illegal drugs or misusing prescription drugs within the past year.
  • Among the Americans who use illegal drugs, roughly 25% have a substance use disorder.
  • Over 12% of Americans over the age of 12 report illicit drug use within the past month. Illicit drug use is highest in the 18–25 years age group, with over 24% of people in this age range reporting past-month illicit drug use.
  • Among drug users, 46% use marijuana, 46% use prescription stimulants, 36% use opioids, 36% use methamphetamines, 31% use prescription opioid pain medication, 15% use heroin, and 10% use cocaine.
  • Roughly 47% of adolescents have used an illegal drug at least once before graduating from high school.
  • More than 70,000 Americans died in 2019 from a drug-involved overdose.
  • Since the year 2000, there have been more than 700,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S.
  • In 2020, drug control cost the federal government $35 billion.
  • Nearly 20% of all Americans have used illicit drugs at least once in their lifetime.

Opioid Abuse and Addiction Statistics

Prescription Opioid Statistics

  • In 2017, 1.7 million Americans had substance use disorders with an addiction to prescription opioid pain killers. A little over 650,000 Americans had a heroin addiction (with some overlap between the two).
  • In 2017, approximately 47,000 Americans lost their lives due to opioid overdoses.
  • National opioid prescribing rates started increasing in 2006 and peaked in 2012 at 255 million, with a dispensing rate of 81.3 prescriptions per 100 Americans. In 2019, the dispensing rate had fallen to 46.7 per 100 persons, with over 153 million opioid prescriptions dispensed. However, some counties had rates that were 6 times higher than the national average.
  • Opioid overdose deaths increased from around 21,000 in 2010 to nearly 50,000 in 2019.
  • Roughly 21–29% of people given prescriptions for opioid pain relievers misuse the medications. Up to 12% of people who use opioids to treat chronic pain treatment go on to develop opioid use disorder.
  • Around 4–6% of people who misuse prescription opioids later go on to abuse heroin.
  • 8 out of 10 heroin users started out by first using prescription opioid pain pills.

Opioid Abuse Statistics in the United States

  • 1.6 million Americans have an opioid use disorder.
  • 10.1 million people report misusing opioids at least once in the past 12 months.
  • Among opioid abusers, 9.7 million people misuse prescription pain pills, 745,000 abuse heroin, and 404,000 abuse both prescription pain pills and heroin.

Statistics on Opioid-Related Deaths in the U.S.

  • Every day, 136 people die from an opioid overdose in the United States, including prescription and illicit opioid drugs.
  • Overdose deaths in the U.S. involving prescription opioids (including methadone and semi-synthetic opioids) numbered around 3,500 in 1999 and increased to over 17,000 in 2017.
  • From 2012 to 2015, there was a 264% increase in deaths related to synthetic opioids.
  • In 2019, more than 71,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. Of these, over 70% (roughly 50,000 deaths) were overdoses involving opioids, including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
  • From 2018 to 2019, the overall opioid-involved death rate increased by over 6%. While prescription opioid-involved deaths and heroin-involved deaths declined by 6–7%, the synthetic-opioid-involved death rate increased by more than 15%.
  • Between 1999 and 2019, nearly 500,000 Americans died from an overdose involving an opioid drug.

Statistics on Cost of Opioid Abuse in the U.S.

  • Misuse of prescription opioids alone costs the U.S. more than $78 billion a year, including healthcare costs, lost productivity, criminal justice costs, and addiction treatment.

Statistics on Heroin Abuse in the U.S.

  • Approximately 800,000 Americans over age 12 reported past-year heroin use in 2018. This is roughly 0.3% of the population.
  • Roughly 10,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 years reported past-year heroin use.
  • Some 157,000 young adults aged 18–25 reported past-year heroin use in 2018.
  • Approximately 640,000 adults aged 26 or older reported past-year heroin use in 2018.
  • Overdose deaths involving heroin increased from just under 2,000 in 1999 to almost 15,500 in 2016, but have since trended down, with around 14,000 deaths in 2019.

U.S. Marijuana Statistics

  • Some 43 million Americans above the age of 12 report marijuana use in the past year.
  • Marijuana use is highest in the 18–25 years age group, at just over 35%, meaning every 1 in 3 persons in this age range uses marijuana.
  • Almost 11% of people in the U.S. over age 12 report past-month marijuana use.
  • In the 18–25 age group, 22.5% report using marijuana in the past month.
  • In people over 26 years of age, around 13% report marijuana use in the past year.
  • 43% of college students reported marijuana use in 2019.
  • Less than 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 12 perceive great risk from smoking marijuana once a month.
  • 46% of drug users use marijuana.
  • There are 3.1 million first-time users of marijuana each year in the U.S.
  • Marijuana use increased by nearly 16% from 2018 to 2019.
  • 1 in 6 marijuana users who start using it before the age of 18 become addicted to marijuana.
  • 30% of marijuana users have marijuana use disorder.
  • In 2018, in U.S. states where marijuana use is legal, emergency room visits increased by over 50% and hospitalizations by over 100%.
  • Toxicology reports in suicide victims showed marijuana in 23% of cases in 2017. This was up from under 8% in 2006.
smoking cannabis

Cocaine Abuse and Addiction Statistics

  • Some 5 million Americans regularly use cocaine.
  • 10% of drug users in the U.S. use cocaine.
  • In 2017, 2.2 million people in the U.S. reported past-month cocaine use.
  • Some 800,000 to 1 million Americans over the age of 12 try cocaine for the first time every year.
  • Drug overdose deaths involving cocaine increased from a little under 4,000 in 1999 to nearly 16,000 in 2019.
  • In 2017, cocaine was involved in 1 out of 5 overdose deaths.
  • From 2012 to 2018, cocaine-related overdose deaths rose from 1.4% to 4.5%.
  • Cocaine use is highest among Americans in the 18–25 age group. In 2019, over 5.5% of 18- to 25-year-old Americans reported past-year cocaine use.
  • Almost 4% of 12th graders admit to having used cocaine at least once (2018 figure).

Statistics on Methamphetamine Use in the U.S.

  • In 2018, roughly 1.9 million Americans or 0.7% of the U.S. population reported methamphetamine use in the past year. Methamphetamine use was highest in the 18–25 years age group, at 0.8% or 273,000 young adults.
  • In people aged 26 and older, 1.6 million reported methamphetamine use in the past year.
  • Almost 775,000 Americans report past-month methamphetamine use.
  • Some 200,000 Americans use methamphetamine for the first time each year. The average age of a new methamphetamine user is 23 years (2016 figure).
  • More than 950,000 Americans over the age of 12 had an amphetamine use disorder in 2017.
  • 0.5% of youth (8th, 10th, and 12th graders) reported methamphetamine use within the past year in 2018.
  • 36% of drug users in America use methamphetamines.
  • Treatment admissions for methamphetamine abuse decreased from 68 per 100,000 people in 2005 to 49 in 2015.
  • Treatment admissions for methamphetamine abuse are less than 1% east of the Mississippi River and up to 29% west of the Mississippi.
  • In 2017, there were 10,000 deaths related to methamphetamine overdose. The same year, about 15% of all drug overdose deaths involved methamphetamine.
  • Fatal methamphetamine overdose rates tripled in the five years from 2011 to 2016.
  • More than 70% of law enforcement agencies in the West-Central U.S. say methamphetamine is the greatest drug threat in their region.

Benzodiazepine Abuse and Addiction Statistics

  • Some 5.2 million Americans report misusing benzodiazepines in the past year.
  • Among benzodiazepine users, around 2% have benzodiazepine use disorders.
  • Around 46% of past-year benzodiazepine users report the reason for the abuse is to relax and relieve tension, 22% use the drugs to help with sleep, 11% use them to get high, and around 6% use them for experimentation.
  • Drug overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines increased from around 1,100 in 1999 to over 11,500 in 2017, then declined to 9,700 in 2019.

Statistics on Abuse and Addiction of Hallucinogen Substances

  • In 2018, around 5.6 million Americans over the age of 12 years were past-year hallucinogen users (2% of the population). This figure was higher than in 2015 and 2016, but similar to that in 2017.
  • Some 376,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years reported past-year use of hallucinogens in 2018.
  • Nearly 7% of young adults aged 18–25 years were past-year users of hallucinogens in 2018.
  • In people over the age of 26, an estimated 1.3% were past-year users of hallucinogens.

Statistics on Inhalant Abuse and Addiction in the U.S.

  • In 2018, approximately 2 million Americans aged 12 and over reported past-year use of inhalants like spray paint, aerosol sprays, gasoline, etc.
  • Some 662,000 adolescents between 12 and 17 years old reported past-year use of inhalants in 2018.
  • Approximately 1.5% of young adults aged 18–25 years were past-year inhalant users in 2018. This translates to 495,000 young adults who used inhalants in the past year.
  • 0.4% of people over 26 reported past-year inhalant use in 2018 in the U.S.

Statistics on Abuse and Addiction of Sedatives and Tranquilizers

  • In 2018, approximately 460,000 adolescents (12–17 years old) misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives in the past year.
  • Roughly 1.7 million young adults (ages 18–25 years) reported past-year misuse of sedatives and tranquilizers in 2018.
  • Some 4.3 million adults aged 26 years and older reported misusing prescription sedatives and tranquilizers in 2018.

Statistics on Smoking and Tobacco Use in the U.S.

  • In 2018, nearly 14% of adults in America were smokers.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S.
  • Over 16 million Americans are living with smoking-related diseases.
  • On average, 1,300 people die every day from cigarette smoking.
  • Cigarette smoking claims 480,000 American lives each year. Approximately 40,000 deaths are from exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke.
  • Smokers die 10 years earlier than non-smokers, on average.
  • Each day, around 2,000 people under the age of 18 smoke for the first time. Every day, around 300 people under 18 become daily smokers.
  • At the current rate, 5.6 million Americans under the age of 18 will die prematurely from smoking-related illnesses.
  • In 2018, around 7.5% of people who tried to quit smoking were successful.
  • At least 55% of adult cigarette smokers made at least one attempt at quitting in 2018.
  • Smoking costs the U.S. over $300 billion each year in direct medical care and lost productivity due to premature deaths.
  • $22.5 million is spent every day by cigarette manufacturers on promotions and advertising (over $8 billion annually).

Last updated: March 9, 2023