Most people know that addiction exists. We watch characters in movies and television shows struggle with drugs and alcohol, see advertisements about saying no to drugs, read about celebrities grappling with substance use challenges, hear about the opioid crisis on the news, and come across heartbreaking statistics about the number of people overdosing and relapsing nationwide. Unfortunately, day-to-day stories about addiction can make us numb to just how prevalent substance abuse is in America or cause us to think, “This could never happen to me.” But the reality is that addiction is more common than most of us think. According to data recently published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 19.3 million Americans over the age of 12 had a substance use disorder in 2019. Considering the nation’s population, that’s almost 1 out of every 5 people in the United States.
How Common Are the Addictions We Treat?
According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use & Health, 7.4 million people with substance use disorders in the United States had an addiction to illicit drugs, and 14.1 million people struggled with alcohol use¹.
Alcohol Addiction in America and How It Has Grown
Alcohol is one of the most commonly misused substances in the United States. Unlike cocaine, heroin, and other illicit drugs, alcohol is widely available and a popular aspect of American culture. Changes in cultural attitudes toward drinking have resulted in Americans drinking more than they were when the U.S. Government enacted the Prohibition Amendment in 1920. “I think people sort of forgot all the problems [with alcohol],” William Kerr, Senior Scientist at the California-based Public Health Institute, said. But heavy drinking, defined as men having 15 or more and women having eight or more drinks per week, and binge drinking, defined as men having five or more and women having four or more drinks in 2 hours, can lead to alcohol addiction. This substance use disorder disrupts the brain’s chemical balance, making it hard to control how much and how often you drink.
- 414,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 had an addiction to alcohol
- 3.1 million individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 grappled with alcohol addiction challenges
- 11 million Americans aged 26 or older had an alcohol use disorder
- The rate of alcohol-related deaths for women increased, even though more men than women die each year from alcohol-related causes
- Americans increased their alcohol consumption by 14 percent from 2019
- Women increased their heavy drinking, defined as more than 4 drinks in 1 sitting, by 41 percent
Opioid Addiction in America and Its Terrible Effects
Since the 1990s, opioid use in America has steadily increased, leading to our nation’s current opioid epidemic. Opioids are a specific group of drugs that help ease, reduce, and relieve pain. Opioids fall into two main categories: prescription “painkillers” prescribed by doctors and illegal opioids known as “street drugs.” Prescription opioids are just as addictive as illegal opioids. In 2019, 10.1 million people misused opioids¹ and 1.6 million people were addicted to opioids, a significant decrease from the 2.4 million people who had an opioid use disorder in 2015. Even though the number of people addicted to opioids has decreased, opioid use disorder remains a common addiction challenge, particularly for young people. Last year:
- 87,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 had an opioid addiction
- 227,000 individuals ages 18 to 25 grapple with an opioid addiction
- The CDC reported that 7 in 10 prescription drug deaths involving women included opioid painkillers.
- 1.3 million people aged 26 or older found themselves addicted to opioids
- 62,000 18- to 25-year-old Americans were addicted to heroin and 376,000 people aged 26 or older struggled with a heroin use disorder
Cocaine Addiction in America and How It Won’t Be Kept Down
Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug. Stimulants speed up the body’s mental and physical processes, causing users to feel a sudden rush through their mind and body. In the presence of cocaine, the body’s systems speed up, the heart pumps faster, and the senses become more alert. But the high is temporary and cocaine disrupts the brain’s delicate balance, damages the structure of the brain, and kills brain cells. Despite the damage cocaine can cause to the body, 5.5 million people used cocaine in 2019 and an estimated 1 in 5 people who used cocaine developed an addiction to the drug that year². In addition:
- 5,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 had an addiction to cocaine
- 250,000 18- to 25-year-old Americans grappled with cocaine addiction
- 756,000 people aged 26 and older had a cocaine use disorder
Methamphetamine Addiction is Destroying America
Methamphetamine, also known as “meth,” is another highly addictive stimulant that causes damage to the central nervous system. Even though meth can make you feel alert and energetic, long-term use of the drug can cause memory problems, brain damage, mood disorders, and violent behavior. Using higher doses of meth can cause dangerously high body temperature, convulsions, and death. Unfortunately, stimulants like meth remain one of the 10 most common addictive substances in the United States. In fact, the number of people addicted to meth has increased from 684,000 people in 2016 to 1 million people in 2019².
- 19,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 had an addiction to methamphetamine
- In 2019, 125,000 young adults aged 18 to 25 grapple with a methamphetamine use disorder.
- The number of adults addicted to methamphetamine increased from 539,000 in 2016 to 904,000 in 2019
Also called “MDMA” and “Molly,” ecstasy is a synthetic hallucinogen drug that alters mood and sensory perception. After consuming ecstasy, users tend to feel energetic and emotional but also have distorted senses and a warped sense of time. Ecstasy’s “out-of-body” high can initially elicit feelings of pleasure, but chronic MDMA users can face a number of health problems including:
- Liver and kidney disease
- Pulmonary, heart, and skin infections
- Hepatitis and HIV
- Brain damage and loss of white matter
Unfortunately, the percentage of people using hallucinogens increased in 2019. Out of the 6 million people who used hallucinogens last year², more than 2 million people in the United States, including adolescents aged 12 and older, used ecstasy.
Real Recovery for Real People at Meta Addiction Treatment in MA
Here at Meta Addiction Treatment in MA, we know just how prevalent addiction is and has become in the United States. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to provide a variety of treatment programs that equip our clients with the knowledge and support they need to make healthy decisions and achieve long-term recovery.
We also understand that addiction affects everyday people with real lives. Our outpatient recovery programs allow you to receive three different levels of addiction treatment while living at home and maintaining your day-to-day schedule.
Addiction is a common problem, but it’s a treatable problem. We know this because the majority of our executive team are in active recovery. Let us help you get there. Call us today at (978) 776-3206 if you or a loved one are struggling with addiction challenges.