Adult Addiction Statistics: Substance Abuse in the United States
- In the United States, an estimated 14.5 million adults had alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2018, while approximately 2.1 million Americans suffered from opioid use disorder in 2017.
September 19, 2023
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According to recent addiction statistics, substance abuse and addiction in the United States have been on the rise, with devastating consequences for individuals, families, and communities. In particular, the trend of adult addiction has been a growing concern, as more and more people struggle with drugs, alcohol, and other harmful behaviors.
Understanding the scope and impact of this issue is essential for developing effective prevention and treatment strategies that can help those in need. In this article, we will examine some of the latest statistics and trends related to adult addiction in the United States.
Top 15 Adult Addiction Statistics
Approximately 19.7 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2017.
In 2019, drug overdose deaths in the United States reached a record high of 70,630.
Alcohol misuse is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
More than 80% of people suffering from addiction smoke cigarettes.
The opioid epidemic has led to a 200% increase in overdose deaths involving opioids since 2000.
Marijuana use among adults has increased in recent years, with 43.5 million adults using marijuana in 2018.
In 2019, an estimated 14.5 million adults aged 18 and older had alcohol use disorder (AUD).
In the past year, more than 16% of women between the ages of 18 and 25 experienced an alcohol use disorder.
Over 5 million women in the US misused opioids, while over 1.5 million women had an opioid use disorder.
Marijuana was found to be the most commonly used illicit drug among pregnant women aged 15 to 44.
Addiction Statistics Among Adult Men
Substance abuse and addiction are serious issues affecting both men and women in the United States. However, research has shown that men tend to have higher rates of drug and alcohol use compared to women. Specifically, studies have found that:
Men are more likely than women to use all types of illicit drugs.
Men have higher rates of alcohol-related hospitalizations and deaths.
Illicit drug use is more likely to result in an overdose death for men than for women.
About 25% of adult American men report binge drinking around five times per month, and men are nearly twice as likely as women to engage in this behavior.
Men are also more likely than women to use alcohol before committing suicide.
Addiction Disparities Based on Race/Ethnicity in Adults
Alcohol Use Disorder
Opioid Overdose Deaths
Barriers to Treatment
Stigma and Shame
Lower rates, but more likely to experience negative health consequences
Native American/Alaska Native
Highest rate of opioid overdose deaths, 2.5 times higher than non-Hispanic whites
Lower rates compared to non-Hispanic whites, but more likely to face barriers to accessing treatment for addiction, including language barriers and lack of insurance coverage.
Barriers to accessing treatment
Lower rates compared to other groups, but more likely to experience stigma and shame related to seeking help for addiction.
Stigma and shame related to seeking help for addiction
Addiction statistics in adults based on race/ethnicity reveal significant disparities in substance abuse rates across different groups. Here are some of the latest statistics:
Non-Hispanic white adults have the highest rate of alcohol use disorder (AUD) among all racial/ethnic groups, with an estimated 7.5% of adults having AUD in 2019.
African American adults have lower rates of drug use compared to other racial/ethnic groups, but they are more likely to experience negative health consequences due to drug use, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.
Native American and Alaska Native adults have the highest rate of opioid overdose deaths among all racial/ethnic groups, with a rate that is 2.5 times higher than that of non-Hispanic whites.
Hispanic/Latino adults have lower rates of substance use disorders compared to non-Hispanic whites, but they are more likely to face barriers to accessing treatment for addiction, including language barriers and lack of insurance coverage.
Asian American adults have lower rates of substance use disorders compared to other racial/ethnic groups, but they are more likely to experience stigma and shame related to seeking help for addiction.
Addiction Statistics in Adults by Substance Used
Number of American Adults Affected
Approximately 14.5 million
Most common substance use disorder in the United States
Sharp increase in overdose deaths since 2000; over 70% of overdose deaths involved an opioid in 2019
Approximately 43.5 million American adults reported using marijuana within the past year in 2018
One of the most commonly used drugs among adults
An estimated 1.5 million American adults had a cocaine use disorder in 2019; cocaine-related overdose deaths have been on the rise in recent years
Approximately 1.6 million American adults reported using methamphetamine within the past year in 2018; rates of use highest among young adults aged 18 to 25
Alcohol: Approximately 14.5 million American adults had alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2019, making it the most common substance use disorder in the United States.
Opioids: The opioid epidemic has led to a sharp increase in overdose deaths involving opioids since 2000, with over 70% of overdose deaths involving an opioid in 2019.
Marijuana: In 2018, approximately 43.5 million American adults reported using marijuana within the past year, making it one of the most commonly used drugs among adults.
Cocaine: An estimated 1.5 million American adults had a cocaine use disorder in 2019, and cocaine-related overdose deaths have been on the rise in recent years.
Methamphetamine: In 2018, approximately 1.6 million American adults reported using methamphetamine within the past year, with rates of use highest among young adults aged 18 to 25.
Opioid Addiction Statistics in Adults
Opioid addiction is a major public health crisis in the United States, with 2.1 million Americans suffering from opioid use disorder in 2017.
In 2017, there were 47,600 opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States.
In 2018, more than 10 million Americans misused prescription opioids.
The economic burden of the opioid epidemic was estimated to be $78.5 billion in 2013.
From 1999 to 2018, nearly 450,000 people died from an opioid overdose.
Men are more likely than women to die from an opioid overdose, but the gap between the sexes has been narrowing in recent years.
The states with the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths per capita are West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Alcohol Addiction Statistics
An estimated 14.5 million adults aged 18 and older had alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2018.
Heavy alcohol use is a leading risk factor for liver disease, with an estimated 80% of liver disease deaths being alcohol-related.
In 2019, 25.8% of adults reported binge drinking in the past month.
Excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for an average of 95,000 deaths in the United States each year.
Alcohol-impaired driving accounted for 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States in 2019.
The economic cost of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States was $249 billion in 2010.
Men are more likely than women to drink excessively and engage in risky behaviors while under the influence of alcohol.
Marijuana Addiction Statistics
Approximately 4 million Americans met the diagnostic criteria for marijuana use disorder in 2017.
Heavy marijuana use can lead to a variety of negative health outcomes, including respiratory problems, impaired memory and concentration, and risk of addiction.
In 2020, 68% of Americans supported legalizing marijuana for recreational use, up from 31% in 2000.
Legalization of medical and/or recreational marijuana has been associated with a decrease in opioid-related deaths in some states.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.
The potency of marijuana has increased over time, with average THC concentrations rising from about 4% in the 1980s to about 12% in recent years.
Methamphetamine Addiction Statistics
An estimated 1.5 million people aged 12 or older had used methamphetamine in the past year.
Methamphetamine use can lead to a variety of negative health outcomes, including tooth decay, anxiety, and psychosis.
In 2019, methamphetamine was involved in almost 16,000 overdose deaths in the United States.
Methamphetamine use is most prevalent in the western and midwestern United States.
The economic cost of methamphetamine use in the United States was estimated to be $23.4 billion in 2015.
Methamphetamine is highly addictive, with up to 90% of people who try it becoming addicted.
Adult Addiction Treatment: Alarming Statistics and Facts
Only 10% of individuals with a substance use disorder receive any form of treatment.
Of those who do receive treatment, only 40% receive evidence-based care that aligns with established best practices.
The most common form of treatment for substance abuse is behavioral therapy, which can help individuals change their attitudes and behaviors related to drug use.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an effective option for opioid addiction, but only about half of all treatment facilities offer MAT services.
Inpatient rehabilitation programs can be effective for severe cases of addiction, but they are often cost-prohibitive for many individuals.
Outpatient rehabilitation programs are more affordable and flexible than inpatient programs, making them a popular choice for many people seeking treatment.
Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can be helpful for maintaining sobriety after completing formal treatment.
Family therapy and support can be important components of addiction treatment, as addiction often affects not just the individual but also their loved ones.
Substance abuse and addiction are serious problems affecting millions of adults in the United States. Alcohol, opioids, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine are among the most commonly abused substances. Addiction rates vary by gender, race/ethnicity, and age group. Although effective treatments are available for substance use disorders, only a small fraction of individuals with addiction receive treatment that aligns with established best practices.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2020). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2021). Opioid Overdose Crisis.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2021). Alcohol Use and Your Health.
CDC. (2021). Opioid Overdose: Understanding the Epidemic.
American Psychiatric Association. (2017). What Is Addiction?
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Behavioral Health Treatments & Services.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.).Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Drug Overdose Deaths.
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