MUST READ: Stunning U.S. Addiction Statistics

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 23.2 million Americans are currently addicted to one substance or another.  Of those addicted, only 10 percent are receiving the treatment they need.

The following are some of the latest US addiction statistics:


The NIAAA reveals that alcohol is by far the most abused substance. While alcohol is considered by most of the population as less dangerous than illegal drugs, in reality it is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. — behind cancer and heart disease.

The effects of alcohol abuse can be seen on many levels, especially where traffic fatalities are concerned. Per the findings of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash within their lifetime. In fact, 32 percent involved in crashes are alcohol impaired. In 2010 alone, 10,228 people died in alcohol-related accidents — 211 of which were children 14 and under.

Within the home, alcohol abuse plays a dramatic role. According to a recent  JAMA report, 92 percent of domestic abuse assailants reported the use of alcohol or other drugs on the exact day of the assault.


According to the U.S. Department of Human Health and Services, more than 100 million citizens over the age of 12 have used marijuana in their lifetime. Out of the many that have experimented with it, there are more than 3.6 million daily users, shared professor Roger Roffman of the University of Washington.

To educate the public on the long-term effects of marijuana use, the CDC pinpointed them as short-term memory loss, slowness of learning, impaired lung function, decreased sperm count, interference with ovulation, impaired immune response, and possible adverse affects on the heart.

Hard Illegal Drugs

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) has estimated that there are 2.4 users of cocaine, 1 million users of hallucinogens, and more than 700,000 methamphetamine addicts.

The survey also found that there are 18.5 million unemployed illicit drug users and 13.5 million employed illegal drug users.

Prescription Meds

The National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed in a 2010 study that more than 7 million Americans are addicted to prescription medications. Of those medications 5.1 percent are pain pills, 2.2 million tranquilizers, 1.1 million stimulants, and 0.4 percent sedatives.

Among adolescents, one in 12 high school seniors report non-medical use of Vicodin and one in 20 OxyContin. When asked where they received the drugs, 70 percent said they received it from a friend or relative.

This isn’t necessarily a surprise, as between 1991 and 2010 doctor-written prescriptions for stimulants rose from 5 million to nearly 45 million and opioid analgesics from 75.5 million to 209.5 million.


Nicotine has been associated with an addiction rate of 98 percent, making it the most addictive substance available today. Amazingly, it beats out methamphetamines  heroin, and crack cocaine. According to the CDC, an estimated 45.3 million people in the U.S. smoke cigarettes. Smoking is more common in men than women (21.5 percent versus 17.3 percent).

Within the U.S. each year, there are 443,000 deaths associated with cigarettes. This translates to one out of every five deaths.  Smoking is most popular with the 24-44 year demographic at 22 percent and  those living below the poverty line (28.9 percent of adult smokers).


Another addiction (that isn’t considered a concern by the world at large) is coffee. According to an NBC report, Americans collectively drink 400 million cups per day. Coffee is considered a psychoactive drug that has the power to alter brain chemistry, allowing caffeine to bind to adenosine-receptors, which are responsible for causing sleepiness/drowsiness.

When experiencing a caffeine buzz, the body is sent into emergency mode. For those that drink coffee throughout the day rather than having one or two cups, they become tolerant and adapt to the presence of the substance.  Coffee addicts must then continually drink more to experience the high. For some, this means sending the body into a state of emergency the entire day.  Virginia Commonwealth University’s Neil Maijithia recommends minimal consumption of coffee each day for optimal health.

Prison and Addiction

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, a staggering 1.5 out of 2.3 million U.S. inmates suffer from substance abuse addiction. It has also discovered that 78 percent of violent crimes; 83 percent of property crimes; and 77 percent of public order, immigration or weapons offences, and probation/parole violations are associated with alcohol and other drugs.

In response to these staggering numbers, the Columbia University-based National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse has sought to inspire prison leaders to take action to rehabilitate prisoners. The organization is of the opinion that the prison system’s priorities are misguided.

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