Before discussing how many American are addicted to drugs, let\u2019s look at a few important statistics: \tIn 2015, 27.1 million people aged 12 or older used an illicit drug within the previous 30 days. That\u2019s about 1 in 10 Americans. \tOf the 20.8 million people aged 12 or older,15.7 million had an alcohol use disorder. Around 7.7 million had an illicit drug use disorder. \tFewer than 30% of people who used illicit drugs in 2015 suffered from addiction. Yet, this number could be low as many people fall through the cracks. What Are the Top Drugs Abused? To understand how many Americans are addicted to drugs, you need to look at the commonly abused drugs. For example, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the most common problems with illicit drugs included: \tMarijuana abuse \tCocaine addiction \tHeroin and opiate abuse \tHallucinogens \tInhalants \tMethamphetamine \tPrescription psychotherapeutic drugs (e.g. pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives). What Is a Substance Use Disorder? A substance use disorder describes a pattern of using a substance that also results in impairment in daily life. For a person to be diagnosed with a substance use disorder, then they must display two of the following symptoms within a 12-month period: \tConsuming more of the drug than planned \tWorrying about trying to quit the drug or failing in efforts to control its use \tSpending a large amount of time using drugs or doing whatever is needed to obtain them \tUsing the drug results in failure to fulfill major obligations at home, work or school \t\u201cCraving\u201d the drug \tContinuing to use the drug despite physical or mental health problems worsened by its use \tContinuing to use the drug despite its negative effects on relationships with others \tRepeatedly using the drug in dangerous situations. (e.g. when operating heavy machinery or driving a car) \tGiving up or reducing normal activities due to drug use \tBuilding up a tolerance to the drug. Tolerance is defined in the DSM-5 as needing to use noticeably larger amounts over time to get the desired effect. The person may notice less of a high after repeated use of the same amount. \tExperiencing withdrawal symptoms after stopping use How Many Americans Suffer from Drug Addiction? The following statistics all derive from the most recent\u00a0National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The study was published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration with 2015 data. Marijuana Use Disorder \t4 million total \t651,000, aged 12-17 \t1.8 million, aged 18-25 \t1.6 million, aged 26 and older Cocaine Use Disorder \t896,000 total \t31,000, aged 12-17 \t229,000, aged 18-25 \t430,000, aged 26 and older Heroin Use Disorder \t591,000 total \t6,000, aged 12-17 \t155,000, aged 18-25 \t430,000, aged 26 and older Methamphetamine Use Disorder \t872,000 total \t22,000, aged 12-17 \t156,000, aged 18-25 \t694,000, aged 26 and older Pain Reliever Use Disorder \t2.0 million total \t122,000, aged 12-17 \t427,000, aged 18-25 \t1.5 million, aged 26 and older Tranquilizer Use Disorder \t688,000 total \t77,000, aged 12-17 \t234,000, aged 18-25 \t376,000, aged 26 and older Stimulant Use Disorder \t426,000 total \t38,000, aged 12-17 \t159,000, aged 18-25 \t229,000, aged 26 and older Obviously, the scope of the drug addiction epidemic in America is immense. It impacts people of all ages, races, genders as well as socioeconomic strata. Co-occurring SUDs and mental health disorders are also common. In fact, there are approximately 19.6 million adults suffering from both in 2015. However, only a small percentage of people who need treatment receive it and even fewer go to specialized facilities. What Are the Statistics on the Prescription Opioid Epidemic? \tAbout 2.1 million adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of nonmedical prescription opioid use disorder. \tIn 2013, 746,000 people received treatment for prescription opioid use disorders at inpatient facilities. \tAn estimated 24% who were treated for opioid use disorders with pharmacotherapy used prescription opioids. In fact, opioid use disorder has well-documented negative consequences including: \tPremature death \tAcquisition and transmission of HIV and hepatitis C. \tMany people who abuse prescription opioids begin using heroin. This is due to its relatively inexpensive cost and availability. What Causes Prescription Opioid Addiction? For example, a recent study analyzed the onset of opioid use disorder in those who first used opioids to get high (non-Rx). The study then compared the outcome with those who received a prescription (Rx group) for the drug. In total, the study consisted of 214 participants entering treatment at one of the drug treatment programs across the country. \tThe Rx group consisted of 57.6% female and 42.4% male. \tThe non-Rx group consisted of 53.6% female and46.4% male. \tThe Prescribed opioids were more often the first ones abused. \tBoth groups had psychiatric problems requiring treatment at some point in their lives. The Rx group had a significantly greater incidence of depression. \tAn estimated 85% of participants said opioids had the ability to provide a means of escaping from life\u2019s unpleasantness. The reported that opioids provide relief from psychiatric disorders like anxiety and depression. The opioids reportedly made them feel \u201cnormal\u201d and more focused. These complex drug-induced attributes appeared to be the driving factors in the development of an opioid use disorder. \tAfter a short time of persistent use, individuals in both groups experienced dependence. Even those who were not using opioids to get high needed increased amounts to prevent the pain and discomfort of opioid withdrawal. The fear of opioid withdrawal symptoms became such a powerful force that getting high was no longer a priority of use. Addiction in the Workplace Addiction in the workplace is also widespread. In fact, there is an estimated 75% of adults struggling with substance abuse currently employed. \tWorkers with substance abuse disorders miss nearly 50% more days than their sober colleagues. As many as six weeks of work annually is missed. \tConstruction, entertainment, recreation and food service businesses have twice the national average of employees with substance abuse disorders. \tDrug addictions cost taxpayers more than $440 billion annually. \tThe cost of untreated substance abuse ranges from $2,600 to $13,000 per employee. Drug Addiction Is a Complex Problem Statistics are just part of the picture. Until someone has experienced drug addiction, it is hard to comprehend the consequences on individual, families, the workplace and society as a whole. Unfortunately, there is not a simple solution. Many components need to be part of the equation including: \tPrevention \tEducation \tImproved access to treatment \tIncreased research Addiction recovery involves many pathways. Treatment must be tailored to fit the life circumstances of each individual.