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Drug Abuse Statistics

Knowing the statistics on drug abuse can help reduce substance abuse, prevent drug use, and encourage drug treatment. This article contains drug abuse statistics, alcohol usage, and tobacco use. Keep reading to find out more stats on drug use and abuse.


Drug Abuse statistics show, around 19.7 million people in the United States currently use drugs. This staggering statistic is from the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

In 1999, around 14.8 million Americans had used drugs. So this statistic shows how drug abuse is growing. Other startling drug statistics from the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health cited the following: 

  • The rate of drug use for those 12 or over is 8.1 percent of the population 
  • 0.4 percent of the population used hallucinogens 
  • Marijuana is the most common used drug with over 14.6 million users 
  • 2.4 million people uses cocaine 
  • 6.4 million people abuse prescription medications 
  • 10.5 people aged 12 or older admitted to driving under the influence of drugs in the last year

In looking at alcohol usage, the following statistics apply

  • Over half of all Americans explain that they currently drink alcohol. That translates to around 126 million people. 
  • One fifth of Americans binge drink. 
  • 6.9 percent of Americans drink heavily (this means they binge drink at least 5 times in a month. 
  • Around 13 percent of Americans drove under the influence of alcohol sometime in the last year.

And in studying tobacco use, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found the following 

  • Around 71.5 million Americans use tobacco. 
  • Tobacco use is declining slowly 
  • 16.6 percent of pregnant women used cigarettes

In looking at availability of drugs including marijuana, crack, and cocaine in schools, around 37 percent of students in 1999 said they could get drugs. Public schools are more likely to have drugs than private schools and students had more access to drugs in the upper grades than in the lower. The statistical comparison of drug availability is interesting among those students living in suburban areas (39.5 percent), rural communities (34.3 percent) and urban living conditions (33.7 percent).

Finally, in looking at drug abuse itself, the following conditions usually are experienced

  • Tolerance for the drug increases 
  • Trying various ways to get the substance 
  • Reduced social or work life because the drug takes over 
  • Withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit or not having the drug for a long time 
  • Usage even after knowing how it is causing problems

And of course, a huge urge to take the drug often. Other articles look at drug treatments and drug prevention.

The Facts of Drug Abuse Sources:

  • National Mental Health Association, “Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders,” [online].
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction,” [online].
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Results from the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings,” [pdf online].
  • U.S. Department of Justice, “Drugs and Crime Facts, Drug Use in Youth, General Population and Workforce,” [online].

Related Article: Drug Abuse Prevention >>

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