40 Alarming Addiction Statistics & Facts

Addiction Statistics

What if we told you that suburbia is resolving their addiction to opioids with heroin? And that drug addiction costs the US almost $800 billion per year? Or how alcoholism is ruining millions of childhoods across the country?

Who would’ve thought we are such a dependent society? Unfortunately, addiction statistics are harsh and undeniable. Even though it’s the 21st century, even though we have all the information possible on the detrimental effects, Americans still fail to resist the (sometimes deadly) temptations. Why is it so? There are lots of (personal) reasons, but as you shall see later, a certain gender discrepancy is present.

There is quite a number of addictions out there (with smartphone disorder being the latest one), but we are going to focus on the most dangerous ones. Our attention is dedicated primarily to opioid addiction statistics and the consequences, along with alcohol addiction. Marijuana is present in the stats, too, but perhaps not in the way you’ve anticipated.

Before we begin, here’s a brief preview of what you may expect:

Top 10 Addiction Facts and Stats to Be Aware Of

  • Over 20 million Americans are dealing with at least one addiction.
  • Switzerland reduced its heroin death rate by 64% by legalizing it.
  • Women are more likely than men to develop an addiction to prescription drugs.
  • Over 130 people in the US die every day because they overdosed on opioids.
  • The number of marijuana deaths per year: 0
  • One in eight Americans has a drinking problem.
  • About 30% of marijuana users should seek advice about marijuana use disorder.
  • 38% of American college students used marijuana at least once in 2017.
  • 5.1% of all diseases in the world is caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Prescription drug addicts have 40 times bigger chances of becoming addicted to heroin.

Now, take a look at the not-so-pretty picture of today’s society.

General Addiction Statistics

1. Over 20 million Americans are dealing with at least one addiction.


Sadly, the percentage of Americans receiving the right treatment is only 10%.

2. The latest stats confirm 652,000 Americans dealt with heroin addiction or abuse in 2017.

(Statista) (NIH)

The reason for such a high number may be an addiction to prescription opioids. OxyContin and Vicodin have similar qualities to heroin and cause dependency, yet they are completely legal.

3. Official drug facts: there is no such thing as marijuana addiction.


Marijuana is not addictive per se. What it may cause is the so-called marijuana use disorder, which refers to feeling negative marijuana withdrawal symptoms in cases when the brain was used to large amounts of marijuana.

4. Over 700,000 Americans died due to a drug overdose in the period between 1999-2017.

(AddictionCenter) (NIH)

And more than 70,000 US citizens died of a drug overdose (including prescription drugs) in 2017 alone.

5. Industries with the highest alcohol and drug use rates are hospitality, recreation, mining, and construction.


These concern drug and alcohol abuse. The first two are more prone to develop an addiction to drugs, while the latter have alcohol issues.

6. Addiction can be developed after just one use of the substance.

(Foundations Recovery Network)

Cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and similar illegal substances are able to induce addiction after a single initial use. Alcohol and cigarettes can cause addiction after a few uses.

7. One in seven Americans is expected to become addicted to a substance, according to substance abuse statistics.

(USA Today)

In this respect, it can also translate as expected to be jailed. Addiction is the only illness for which you will probably go to jail instead of the hospital.

8. Men are more likely to become addicted than women.

(Psychiatric Times)

Generally, men have higher chances of becoming addicted to nicotine, alcohol, or illegal drugs. Apparently, socio-cultural patterns are to blame more than biological gender differences.

9. Almost 70% of adult smokers want to end their nicotine addiction.

(Psychology Today)

Statistics on addiction show that 68% of nicotine addicts wish to break their bad habit. Little wonder, if one is aware of the depressing lung cancer statistics.

Vaping statistics report a lot of smokers see vaping or juuling as less addictive, but this is not true.

10. Genetics is the strongest biological factor in developing a substance use disorder.

(Psychology Today)

Apart from physiological factors and gender, variations in genes carry the highest risk. A bad set of genes increases the risk of addiction development by about 50%.

Drug Abuse Statistics and Facts

11. $740 billion per year of US taxpayers’ money is lost due to drug addiction problems.

(American Addiction Centers)

One of the most shocking addiction facts comes from knowing how much society is lashing out for healthcare expenses, crime-related costs, and reduced productivity at work.

12. Women are more likely than men to develop an addiction to prescription drugs.

(American Addiction Centers)

The reason may lie in the fact that women will more probably suffer from some kind of chronic pain and get painkillers prescribed. Furthermore, they tend to receive higher doses, which is another significant factor.

13. Drug use statistics indicate that US doctors abuse prescription medicine more than their patients.


Up to 15% of healthcare workers abuse prescription drugs due to the inability to cope with stress at work or deal with pain. According to one study, the riskiest group comprises of emergency room doctors and psychiatrists.

14. One person dies every 19 minutes from heroin or opioid overdose.

(The Enquirer, CDC)

Over 47,000 Americans died due to opioid overdose in 2017, which makes for 67.8% of the total number of overdose deaths. In order to fight these horrible statistics, it is advised that addiction should be acknowledged and treated in the same range as heart disease or cancer.

15. More Americans died of drug abuse than in car crashes in 2016.


The total figure of lives lost is 42,249. It surpassed vehicle accidents by more than 2,000 people.

16. Switzerland reduced its heroin death rate by 64% by legalizing it.

(HuffPost) (North Carolina Health News)

The addicts are registered in the local hospital and they regularly get their dosage from the physician in charge. The country legalized prescription heroin in 1994 and heroin statistics show Switzerland has had zero cases of legal heroin overdose since then. HIV infections have dropped by 84% as well.

17. Over 130 people in the US die every day because they overdosed on opioids.


In 2017, about 1.7 million Americans were suffering from substance abuse disorders due to opioid prescriptions. The availability of opioids and encouragement patients receive from physicians lures about 21% to 29% of patients into addiction.

18. Based on cocaine statistics, the number of deaths caused by the drug rose by 20% in 2017.

(US News)

The number of deaths due to cocaine abuse was 3,811. Recent statistics show that cocaine was to blame for 20% of the total number of deaths by drug overdose, too.

19. In 2017, 11.4 million Americans abused opioids.


886,000 heroin addicts and 11.1 million patients who misused their prescriptions belong to this group. The opioid crisis is a huge issue in the States and the government is introducing new measures to fight it.

20. Prescription drug abuse fact: over 214 million opioid prescriptions were approved by health care professionals in 2016.


That means there were 66.5 opioid prescriptions per 100 people! The percentage is incredibly high and is certainly the root of the US prescription drug addiction problem.

21. Prescription drug addicts have 40 times bigger chances of becoming addicted to heroin.


One of the lesser-known facts about drugs is that some prescription drugs such as oxycodone have a chemical structure almost identical to heroin, yet they are FDA approved. However, their cost is much higher compared to heroin. Once a patient becomes addicted to painkillers but they can’t get their prescription anymore, they turn to heroin as a cheaper alternative.

22. The rate of heroin overdose deaths skyrocketed by almost 400%.


This was the situation between 2010 and 2017, and the stats for the next period remain to be seen. Most heroin addicts are using some other type of drug, too.

Alcohol Abuse Statistics

23. One in eight Americans has a drinking problem.

(Washington Post)

In other words, that equals to 12.7% of the country’s population.

24. Approximately 88,000 people die as a consequence of alcohol abuse.


Men are the majority here (62,000 compared to 26,000 women). Alcohol is the third leading cause of death in the US when it comes to preventable causes.

25. Over 28 million Americans have a parent struggling with AUD (alcohol use disorder).


Alcohol statistics show 11 million are children themselves (under 18 years old). What is more, they have a higher tendency of developing the same addiction compared to families without addicts.

26. An alcoholic is 10 times more likely to commit suicide.

(Our World in Data)

This makes alcohol addiction the most life-threatening of all addictions. A person addicted to an opioid or a psychostimulant has a 7 or 8 times greater risk, respectively, compared to a non-addict.

27. And how many people die from alcohol? A staggering 3.3 million lives are lost every year.


This is hardly surprising as 40% of alcohol drinkers experience at least one heavy drinking episode every month.

28. 5.1% of all diseases in the world is caused by excessive alcohol consumption.


It also accounts for 10% of deaths in people who are between 15 and 19 years old.

29. Alcohol abuse costs the States $249 billion per year.


The total sum of alcohol-related annual expenses includes crime, lowered productivity at work, and healthcare costs.

30. Alcoholism statistics reveal that around 10% of alcohol addicts face a withdrawal that can cause death.

(American Addiction Centers)

Acute alcohol withdrawal (AW) can cause serious illness, and even death, in long-term alcohol addicts.

31. Alcohol addiction relapse rates range from 40% to 60%.

(American Addiction Centers) (Drug Abuse)

Although undesirable, relapse is a common process in recovering from alcohol addiction. Alcoholism is a chronic disease, so it is extremely hard to end it. Approximately 90% of ex alcoholics experience relapse after 4 years of addiction treatment.

Marijuana Addiction Statistics and Facts

32. About 30% of marijuana users should seek advice about marijuana use disorder.


In 2015, about 4 million Americans were diagnosed with the disorder. Marijuana is not addictive, but frequent and prolonged use can lead to challenging marijuana withdrawal symptoms.

33. The number of marijuana deaths per year: 0.


The number of people who died from a marijuana overdose is still zero – that has still not happened and is virtually impossible to occur. This statistic also goes in favor of legalizing marijuana and taking it off the list of illegal drugs.

34. The most commonly used illegal drug in the United States is marijuana.


Compared to other illegal substances, only cannabis use has been on the rise in recent years, which is of little wonder considering the increase in public awareness about its benefits.

35. Over 300,000 Americans ask for help because of cannabis use disorder (CUD) every year. 

(Beach House)

Even though the number of people with this disorder is increasing based on drug addiction statistics, at the moment, there are no official FDA recommended medications for it, as opposed to rehabilitation treatments for other illegal drugs.

36. CBD can help heroin addicts in their recovery process.


Recent research has shown that CBD can reduce cravings and anxiety among recovering heroin abusers. A study showed the positive effects remained even after the participants stopped using CBD.

37. At the moment, 219 million people around the world are consuming marijuana.


According to worldwide drug statistics, the largest pot-smoking population is in Asia and Africa, followed by the Americas.

38. 38% of American college students used marijuana at least once in 2017.

(University of Michigan)

These were full-time students, aged 19-22. Only 27% of the students believed marijuana can cause serious harm.

39. Marijuana consumption rate among American college students is the highest it has ever been in the last three decades.


Addiction statistics are pretty worrying, but maybe even more so when it comes to Adderall abuse than marijuana. According to one survey, 24% of college students are using these amphetamine-derived pills.

40. 18- to 29-year-old Americans are the largest group of cannabis smokers.


The older Americans are, the less cannabis they smoke. However, that is not to say they aren’t trying out other cannabis-related products. On the contrary, seniors are very keen on them.


At the moment, the US is going through its biggest opioid crisis ever. The opioid crisis statistics are very grim, and it’s a vicious circle. People get prescription drugs very easily, only to later become so addicted they turn to cheaper, illegal alternatives such as heroin. Alcohol stats confirm relapse is very common, too, while at the same time thousands of people are dying as a result of alcohol abuse.

Marijuana, though, should be excluded from illicit drug use statistics in order to get a clearer picture. Cannabis is not addictive, and even the World Health Organization is recommending its reclassification.

Addiction, perhaps in part caused by alienation, is the plague of the modern era, destroying us from the inside. A serious chronic disorder, though it has not been given enough official recognition as such. These addiction statistics should serve as a wake-up call not only for those suffering from substance abuse but decision-makers around the world as well.

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