Struggling with substance use and addiction can be overwhelming, to put it lightly. However, it is essential to know that you are not alone in your suffering and the support you deserve is available. In the United States, statistics related to those suffering from substance use disorders are astonishing. Let’s look at current rates and statistics. 

Drug Addiction Statistics

The most recent report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, released in 2020, shows critical substance use and mental health indicators in the United States. The report shares that out of those 12 and older, 58.7% used tobacco, alcohol, or an illicit drug in the past month. 138.5 million drank alcohol, 51.7 million used tobacco, and 37.3 used an illegal drug from that percentage.

Looking at substance use disorders (SUDs), the report explains that 40.3 million people aged 12 or older lived with a SUD in 2020. Below is a breakdown of some of their 2020 findings:

  • Substance Use Disorders: In 2020, 28.3 million people had alcohol use disorder, 18.4 million had an illicit drug use disorder, and 6.5 million had both alcohol and illicit drug use disorders [1].
  • Major Depressive Episode: 17% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 experienced a major depressive episode in 2020, and 12% experienced a major depressive episode with severe impairment. In adults over 18, 8.4% experienced a major depressive episode, with 6% experiencing an episode with severe impairment [1].
  • Mental Illness Among Adults: In 2020, 21% of adults over 18 lived with any mental illness, and 5.6% of that population had a severe mental illness. These percentages were highest in those aged 18-25 [1].
  • Co-Occurring Mental Health Concern & Substance Use Disorder: In the adolescent population, 2.7% experienced a major depressive episode in concurrence with a substance use disorder. In adults, the rate was 6.7% [1].
  • COVID-19 & Substance Use: In June 2020, 13% of adults stated an initiation or increased substance use to cope with COVID-19 related stressors. Overdoses also increased by 18% in the early months of the pandemic when compared to the same months in 2019 [2].

Causes of Addiction

Addiction is a “chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences” [3]. Developing an addiction is a different journey for each person, and no singular action or influence determines whether a person will become addicted to a substance. However, there are a few factors that can increase the risk of addiction:

  • Genetics: According to research, a person’s genes account for approximately 40-60% of their addiction risk [3, 4]. Additionally, people living with a mental health condition and teenagers are the two populations most at risk for developing an addiction.
  • Environment: Factors such as family, school, and neighborhood environment can also increase risk. In childhood and adolescence, home environments and peer groups greatly influence development. If a child lives in a home with chronic substance use or criminal activity, they are more likely to develop a substance use disorder. Additionally, peer pressure, poor school performance, or lack of social skills can also increase risk [3].
  • Early Use: According to research, those who begin to use substances at an early age are more likely to suffer from addiction as they age. This increased likelihood may be related to developmental concerns due to the harmful effects of drugs or be a mix of social and biological risk factors [3].
  • Method of Use: Research also shows that smoking or injecting a substance has a higher potential for addiction development. Because drugs enter the brain quickly when smoked or injected, the sense of pleasure comes on rapidly but can fade just as quickly. This contrast can often create a drive for repeated use as a way to experience the initial rush again [3].

Seeking Drug Rehab Support

The current mental health and drug use statistics show the increased prevalence of substance use disorders in America today. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please know that you are not alone. Reach out today and seek the support you deserve.