Stats and Figures: Drug Addiction in America

drug addiction stats

Drop a pin anywhere on a map of the United States, and you’ll likely identify a community that has experienced the devastating effects of drug addiction. No place is immune – whether it’s a sprawling metropolis, a suburban enclave, or a remote rural town. In every corner of the country, careers are ruined, families are torn apart, and lives are cut short by drug and alcohol abuse. 
To get a sense of how widespread and severe this crisis is, let’s take a look at some statistics compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

Drug abuse: A breakdown

Millions of Americans struggle with substance abuse, risking their health, their safety, and their future. Here are some of the most commonly abused drugs, and the ways in which they’re ruining the lives of everyday Americans.


  • Over half of the national population consumes alcohol, making it the most widely used addictive substance.
  • About 17 million people meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder, but less than 10% of them are actively receiving treatment.
  • Alcohol abuse causes 88,000 deaths a year, and costs Americans almost $250 billion dollars annually.


  • About 4 million people in the United States are heavy marijuana users.
  • Marijuana is often considered a “gateway drug”: over 60% of users go on to abuse cocaine, over 50% develop prescription drug habits, and 9% progress to heroin.
  • Marijuana is the second most common substance used by drivers involved in fatal car crashes. Alcohol is the first.


  • Aproximately 10,619 Americans died from a cocaine overdose in 2016.
  • Young adults, aged 18 to 25, are more than twice as likely to use cocaine than any other age group.
  • There were over 500,000 emergency room visits in 2014 related to cocaine. Cocaine use can have severe consequences for the cardiovascular, respiratory, and central nervous systems.


  • Heroin has become increasingly popular in recent years, with approximately 586,000 Americans over the age of 12 struggling with heroin abuse in 2015.
  • Intravenous heroin users are at an extremely high risk of contracting Hepatitis B and C. In 2016, an estimated 19,851 people died from complications of this disease.
  • Heroin overdoses can cause convulsions, comas, and ultimately, death. Approximately 15,446 Americans died from a heroin overdose in 2016.

Prescription Drugs

  • 4.3 million Americans use prescription painkillers for recreational purposes.
  • Over half of people who abuse prescription painkillers get them for free from a friend or relative.
  • Deaths related to prescription drug overdose have tripled over the past 20 years.

Treatment for addiction is critical

Each year, untreated drug addiction costs Americans hundreds of billions of dollars. And with only 10% of those in need actively seeking treatment, those numbers are bound to climb in years to come. But addiction can be overcome with proper care and rehabilitation. 

Alvarado Parkway Institute can treat your drug or alcohol addiction

If you’re one of the 2 million Americans who are ready to embrace a hopeful future, Alvarado Parkway Institute can help you leave your destructive habits in the past. We offer both inpatient and outpatient services to treat addictive disorders, and we’re committed to your health and wellbeing. Call us at (619) 485-1432 and get your life back on track today.


drug-related-deaths-in-2016 (1).jpg
Want to share this image on your site? Just copy and paste the embed code below: