We’ve gathered substance abuse statistics from around the web and will continue to update our sources as more updated metrics are published

Last Updated: 6/28/19

Global Drug Addiction Statistics

Drug abuse is not limited to the United States, it is a chronic disorder that doesn’t discriminate on the basis of demographics or borders. Check out these drug use statistics to understand how prevalent this struggle is around the globe.


  • As many as 31 million people throughout the world are dealing with a substance abuse addiction.1
  • Abuse of alcohol alone results in 3.3 million deaths annually.1
  • Globally, approximately 11 million individuals abuse drugs by injecting them.1
  • When all illicit drug use is taken into account, around 275 million people throughout the world have used illegal drugs.2
  • Cannabis is the most used illicit drug, around 192 million people use illegal cannabis.2
  • Total deaths in 2017 for Alcohol and Drug Use Disorders was 351,547 deaths.22
    • 184,934 associated with Alcohol Use Disorder
    • 166,613 associated with Drug Use Disorder

Countries Compared to the U.S.

  • In The U.S. 5.47% of the population had an alcohol or drug use disorder, second only to Russia with 5.93%. 22
  • For prevalence of alcohol use disorder, the U.S. ranks 3rd (2.04%) behind Russia (4.73%) and Ukraine (4.69%).22
  • The U.S. rate of death from drug use disorders tops the list with 18.75 per 100k. The world average is 2.08 per and the second country is Libya, with 8.2 per 100k. 22

National Drug Addiction Statistics

Statistics from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health for information about US addiction rates and use of drugs in the nation.

  • More than 51 million people age 12 or up reported using an illicit drug in the previous year.3
  • Marijuana was by far the drug with the prevalent use, with more than 40 million people reporting using cannabis in the previous year.3
  • Prescription drugs are the next most-abused drugs, with more than 18 million people reporting the abuse of pharmaceuticals within the previous year; 11.5 million of those abused were a pain reliever.3
  • Cocaine, hallucinogens, and meth were also all abused by hundreds of thousands of people in the single year prior to the survey.3

Types of Illicit Drug use in lifetime

Drug Addiction Statistics: Fatalities

Even though millions of individuals reported abusing illicit drugs at least once in the past year, only around 5 million individuals had a reported diagnosis of a drug use disorder. That means there are many people dealing with drug abuse or addiction who have not yet sought treatment.

The fatality statistics related to US drug abuse demonstrate this. Starting with the National Center for Health Statistics…

  • In 2017 alone, more than 70,200 people died because of overdoses related to prescription opioids and illicit drugs.4
  • More males than females have died because of overdoses every year from 1999 through 2017.4
  • Overdose deaths related to all types of drugs have increased over the years, with fentanyl and other synthetic narcotics causing the largest percentage increase from 2015 forward.4
  • Nearly 48,000 people died from an opioid overdose in 2017, double the opioid overdose fatalities from just a decade before.4
  • More than 15,000 people died from heroin overdose deaths in 2017, six times the amount in 2007.4
  • Nearly 14,000 people died after overdosing on cocaine in 2017.4
  • 1.1 million people seek treatment every year in emergency rooms because of drug poisoning.
    • The highest rate was in the age group 20 through 34, and a quarter of these ended up admitting to the hospital.
  • For every 100,000 deaths (in 2015), these drug categories accounted for this many deaths: ‘any opioid‘ 10.31, ‘opioid pain relievers’ next with 7.04. Heroin with 4.05 and Cocaine 2.11. 22

Drug Specific Statistics


  • 68% of the over 70,000 overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid. 26
  • Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids increased by 45% from 2016 to 201725
  • An average of 130 Americans will die every day from an overdose involving opioids. 26
  • In 2017, of the 70,237 drug overdose deaths, they were comprised of the following groups27
    • Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids (25,466)
    • Heroin (15,482)
    • Opioid Pain Killers (14,495)


  • 9.5% of American children 4-17 are diagnosed with ADHD pushing pharmcology production higher 28
    • Ritalin production rose 900% from 1990 to 2000
    • Adderall production rose 5767% between 1993 and 2001
  • Non-medical use in gradeschool and college age students ranges from 5% to 9%. 29
  • Among young adults only 29-30% saw a ‘perceived risk’ in using adderall.


  • In 2016 63,632 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. involving cocaine30
  • Between 2003 and 2017 cocaine-involved deaths reached a peak in 2006 (2.5 per 100k) before declining, then peaked again in 2017 (4.5 per 100k)30

Causes of Drug Addiction

The causes of drug addiction aren’t fully understood by the medical community, but researchers have uncovered a number of factors that may be at play in your risk for developing an addiction. Some of these drug addiction statistics may help you understand how one person can use a drug recreationally once or twice without falling into addiction when the same is not true for someone else.

  • Around 40 to 60% of a person’s risk for developing an addiction is related to genes.6
  • Other factors that can impact risks for addiction include the environment at home and school and peer-related factors.
  • When parents or other members of the family struggle with addiction, a child in the home may experience an increased risk for future drug abuse or addiction.6
  • Experimenting with drugs at young ages can increase someone’s risks of developing an addiction due to the way that the drugs impact developing brains and bodies.
  • Certain methods of abusing a drug can increase your risks of becoming addicted, particularly either injecting or smoking certain drugs. This may be due to the fact that, although these delivery methods are faster and can generate a more powerful response (or high), the feeling may fade quickly, prompting additional use.
  • Having the following mental health disorders increases risk of developing drug addiction by these rates:22
    • Intermittent Explosive Disorder increases risk by 6.3 times
    • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 5.2 times
    • Bipolar Disorder 5.1 times
    • Any Disruptive Behavior Disorder 4.6 times
    • Oppositional Defiant Disorder 3.9 times
    • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 3.9 times
    • Antisocial Personality Disorder 3.8 times
    • Conduct Disorder 3.5 times
    • Any Anxiety Disorder 3.5 times

Healthcare Costs and Drug Addiction

These facts also help point out the personal and governmental financial consequences of the untreated drug crisis.

  • The total cost to the nation related to substance abuse is over $600 billion annually. To put that in perspective, the 2019 federal government budget for spending on K-12 education was only $81 billion.7, 8
  • Successful drug addiction treatment can substantially lower the overall costs. For example, a year of methadone treatment to help keep someone off certain drugs costs just under a tenth of the expense associated with incarcerating that person for their drug use.7
  • Healthcare costs related to alcohol abuse total $27 billion annually.9
  • Healthcare costs related to the use of illicit drugs total $11 billion annually.9
  • Healthcare costs related to the abuse of prescription opioids run $26 billion annually.9

Drug Addiction Demographic Statistics

Addiction doesn’t play favorites when it comes to factors such as gender, age or geographic location, the statistics do show differences in how various groups of people abuse drugs.

Male vs. Female

  • More men abuse marijuana than women, which may be due to the fact that men experience a more intense high.13
  • Men are more likely to inject heroin than women.13
  • Research indicates that women may be more likely to become addicted to stimulants than men.13
  • Women may also experience stronger hallucinatory effects when taking drugs such as Molly or Ecstasy.13
  • Women who are of reproductive age are more likely to experience an addiction to opioids than other woman or men.13


  • The 2017 Monitoring the Future Survey results indicated that 48 percent of high school seniors had tried illicit drugs during their lifetime while only 19 percent of 8th graders had.10
  • In adults over the age of 20, men are more likely than women to binge drink or become addicted to alcohol. In youths age 12 to 20, females are slightly more likely to engage in binge drinking.13
  • Alcohol is still the most abused substance by teens (2018) , however, marijuana vaping has increased for this age group substantially.14
  • Among teens, older kids are more likely to experiment with drug use or develop addictions than younger teens.14
  • In 2017, the age groups most likely to have a drug use disorder were: 20-24 year olds (8.57%), 25-29 year olds (7.26%), 15-19 year olds (7.23%), and 30-34 year olds (5.55%)22
  • From 1999 to 2017 the greatest changes in overdose death rates occurred in adults aged 55-64, from 4.2 per 100,000 deaths to 28.0 per 100,000 in 2017. 25

By State

  • From 2016-2017 data, 10.88% (29.5 million) in the U.S., 12 or older, used illicit drugs in the past month.31
    • 11.95% (5.5 million) used in the Northeast region, including:
      • 12.82% (1.8 million) of New York
      • 10.04% (1.1 million) of Pennsylvania
    • 10.36% (5.8 million) used in the Midwes, including:
      • 10.04% (1 million) in Illinois
      • 10.08% (990,000) in Ohio
    • 9.59% (9.3 million) used in the South, including:
      • 10.12% (1.8 million) in Florida
      • 8.31% (1.7 million) in Texas
    • 12.55% (8.7 million) used in the West, including:
      • 12.91% (4.3 million) in California
      • 14.41% in Oregon
  • From 2016-2017 data, 51.74% (138.6 million) in the U.S., 12 or older, used alcohol in the past month.31
    • 56.57% (27 million) drank in the Northeast region, including:
      • 63.98% (713,000) in New Hampshire
      • 61.55% (391,000) in the District of Columbia
      • 55.07% (649,000) in Maine
    • 54.26% (30.9 million) drank in the Midwest region, including:
      • 61.78% (3 million) in Wisconsin
      • 60.95% (2.6 million) in Minnesota
    • 47.74% (48 million) drank in the South region, including:
      • 48.42% (10.6 million) in Texas
      • 51.41% (9.1 million) in Florida
    • 51.78% (32.6 million) drank in the West region, including:
      • 50.65% in (16.5 million) California
      • 59.77% (2 million) in Oregon.


  • Individuals with private health insurance are more likely to misuse stimulants.11
  • More people who were employed full-time abused opioids than those who were not employed or employed part-time.12
  • For past month alcohol use the following full-time workers aged 18-64 had the highest rates of abuse (2008-2012): Mining (17.5%), Construction (16.5%), Accommodation & Food Services (11.8%), Utilities (10.3%), Wholesale Trade (10.2%)23
  • For past month illicit drug use, the following full-time workers aged 18-64 had highest rates of abuse (2008-2012): Accommodation and food services (19.1%), Arts, entertainment and recreation (13.7%), Management (12.1%), Information (11.7%) Other Services (except public) (11.2%) 23

Non-Substance Addiction Statistics

Addiction is such a powerful force, there are many people trapped in its grip who are not even dealing with substances. Check out these non-substance addiction statistics.

  • Between 15 and 33% of revenue generated by gambling establishments is related to gaming being done by those with potential addiction to gambling.15
  • Of people who have gambled within the past year, around 6.7% are believed to have a problem with pathological gambling.
  • According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, around 4% of the adult population in the U.S. likely has an issue with problematic gambling.
  • Reviews of literature on the topic indicate that sexual addiction may be a struggle for between 3 and 6% of the population.16
  • One study of video gamers found that 8.7% of players were addicted or were gaming in a problematic way.17
  • The prevalence of exercise addiction has not been fully explored, though studies have put it between 3 and 34 percent, with one study even noting rates as high as 42 percent among specific groups of people.18

Addiction Treatment Statistics

Treatment options are available, find out more via some of the addiction treatment statistics below.

  • There are more than 120,000 AA groups around the globe, with over 2 million people who are active members.19
  • Almost 15,000 facilities in the United States alone provide various professional drug treatment options.20
  • It’s true that many people do relapse and need to seek recovery assistance again. Addiction is a chronic disease, and this is the nature of such illnesses. However, the relapse rates of individuals who follow-up with their treatment plan is actually lower among those dealing with substance abuse than with physical conditions such as asthma or hypertension.21

If you’re ready to join the millions of people who have sought help for their addiction, call FHE Health today. Our counselors are available 24/7 to answer your questions about treatment and help you understand what your best next steps are.

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