Many addictive substances are roaming the streets of the United States, affecting millions of people each day. Whether it’s because of opioids, cocaine, alcohol, or some other addictive substances, many are struggling with significant others, friendships, work, or school. Drug abuse statistics are widely available, but few people truly comprehend the impact drugs have on the communities right in their backyards. We’ve compiled five of the most surprising statistics about drug abuse to give individuals insight into the impact drugs have on the community.

How Prevalent Is Drug Abuse?

The Statistic: Nearly 39 million people suffer from substance use disorder, and at least 21 million have one addiction. 

Drug abuse is extremely common in the United States, with nearly 12% of the approximately 329 million Americans (as of 2020) suffering from some sort of substance use disorder. 21 million of those people are struggling with some other addiction, whether it’s alcohol use disorder, prescription drugs, or some different combination of illicit drugs. Worst of all, only 10% of the people with more than one addiction are getting the help they deserve, meaning many others in schools or workplaces struggle without anyone knowing.

The Demographics of Drug Abuse in the US

The Statistic: Drug abuse is highest among people ages 18-25 at 39%, and 47% of teens and adolescents report using illicit drugs by the time they leave high school.

The demographics of drug abuse are astounding. Not only are young children starting with drugs at a young age, but they’re doing it at times when they’re supposed to be growing their minds and bodies. Children who try drugs before age 13 are almost 70% more likely to develop a substance use disorder within the next seven years. Overall, the demographics are astounding, and it all starts with young adults in the years when they grow and develop who they are.


The Statistic: About 20-30% of all people who take prescription opioids misuse them. 

Opioid use has been on the rise since the 90s, although major steps are being taken to remedy the abuse of this drug. Painkiller sales have risen almost 900% since 1999, but it all starts with prescription medication. Of those people misusing opioids, about 10% develop an opioid addiction. As a result of the increased sales, prescriptions, and misuse, there has been a rise in opioid deaths, with about 130 million Americans dying each day from an overdose. 


The Statistic: About 2% of 8th graders have tried cocaine (2020). 

8th graders. It’s very surprising to think that 8th graders would have access to cocaine, but it’s true enough. And this statistic doesn’t specify by what grade or age level they tried the cocaine, meaning it was likely widely available for them at younger ages. Cocaine-related deaths have grown almost every year since 2013, and individuals ages 18-25 use crack more than any other age group. This statistic shows that availability isn’t just confined to these age ranges, with more and more children having access to illegal drugs each year. 

The Overdose Death Rate Is Increasing

The Statistic: Overdose deaths increase at a 4% rate each year.

As drugs become widely available to individuals at younger ages, we see the effects they can have. Overdoses are rising each year, with the introduction of new strains to individuals without awareness of the implications of taking these drugs. Dangerous drugs like fentanyl are laced with other substances, leading to an increased overdose rate. Over 92,000 people died from an overdose in 2020, and that number doesn’t seem to be reducing anytime soon.

Quality Treatment Centers Can Help Those Suffering From Substance Abuse and Drug Addictions

Drug abuse is more than just a statistic. It’s a major problem plaguing many communities that takes plenty of young, old, wise, and fascinating individuals away from the world too soon. These statistics paint a clear picture, but fortunately, there are plenty of ways to receive treatment and combat the effects of drugs. 

Steps to Recovery is a leading addiction counseling center in Pennsylvania and provides high-quality drug addiction rehab programs and substance abuse treatment programs to help individuals win the battle over their addictive substances. Treatment centers like ours are designed with safety and care in mind, so don’t hesitate to find a location for someone who needs it. If your or a loved one is struggling with addiction, contact Steps to Recovery today at 866-488-8349 to get the help you or someone you love needs to recover from drug abuse.