Drug Addiction Facts & Statistics

Facts About Drug Addiction: The Ugly Truth

Drug addiction is a growing concern in the United States. What are the things we need to know about drug addiction? This article highlights the facts about drug addiction in the U.S.

Drug addiction is not a new phenomenon, but is has been a growing concern. Origins of drug addiction in America started when traders discovered the potency of opium, which became part of the highly-traded commodities in the market during the 19th century. Workers, soldiers of the Civil War, and public figures in history took opiates to relieve symptoms of pain, which led to drug addiction for some.

Now drug addiction has taken a different shape and form, being widespread through different means of technology and transportation. Recent drug addiction facts have highlighted many issues, especially in the form of prescription pill abuse.

What are the recent drug addiction issues?

Prescription drug abuse

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most prolific businesses in healthcare. In the US, there are 7 million people under prescription drugs used to treat psychoanalytic conditions. The drugs under these category include stimulants, antidepressants, pain relievers, tranquilizers and sedatives. Here is the breakdown of prescription drug abuse according to category:

  • Pain relievers – 5.1 million
  • Tranquilizers – 2.2 million
  • Stimulants – 1.0 million
  • Sedatives – 0.4 million

Prescription drug abuse is widespread because the addiction can be traced through the legal acquisition of these medicines. When an individual uses them to the point beyond the recommended dosage, there is a high risk for prescription drug abuse. Taking a closer look, here are some of the biggest prescription drug problems over the recent decades.

Opioid misuse

  • In 2016, a total of 116 people die everyday due to opioid overdose.
  • In the same year, 11.5 million people misused prescription opioids.
  • 2.1 million people misused opioids for the first time.
  • There is a total of 504 million in healthcare costs due to the opioid crisis.
  • In 2017, the government declared a public health emergency to battle the drug misuse problem.

Adderall misuse

  • There is an increase of people who misused Adderall from 2006 to 2011. The number rose to 1.2 % from 0.73 percent over the timeline, marking a growth in the trend of the Adderall misuse problem.
  • Adderall misuse is prevalent among individuals who are 18-25 years old.
  • Adderall is used by some students illicitly as a study-aid medication that helps them cram and stay up all night.
  • Recent hospitalizations that are associated to Adderall misuse grew to over 156%.

Benzodiazepine misuse

  • In 2016, CDC issued a black label warning to avoid prescribing opioids with benzodiazepines due to high risk of drug addiction.
  • Between 1996-2013, people who filled in prescription requests for benzodiazepine increased by 67%.
  • A study among US Veterans revealed that overdose death was more prevalent to those patients who received prescriptions for opioids and benzodiazepine.

Now, the government is taking measures to mitigate the risks of prescription drug abuse. Clinicians are trained to help in providing awareness to their patients. Pharmaceutical companies are also modifying these substances to ensure that they will not be taken than otherwise intended.

Marijuana Abuse

Although there are some states that allow the use of recreational marijuana, there are still health concerns that arise from the continued use of this plant-based substance.

  • 11 million young people ages 18-25 have used marijuana in 2015.
  • More people are believing that marijuana doesn’t have negative health effects.
  • Marijuana use has been proven to stunt IQ levels of chronic users.
  • Marijuana smoke causes lung irritation, and recent studies show higher risk of lung infections.
  • The use of marijuana among pregnant women causes low birth weight and is associated to brain deficiencies and behavioral problems in child development.

Drug trafficking across the border

Due to the prevalent drug use in the US, the demand of different types of substances paved the way to numerous cartels and smuggling groups across the country.

  • Since 2009, heroin seizures have tripled.
  • Methamphetamine seizures increased five times over since 2014.
  • A total of 1.5 million pounds of illicit drugs were seized in the Southern border of the US in 2015.
  • Drug traffickers are charged with felony or other related criminal charges from 5 years up to a lifetime imprisonment sentence.
  • 80% of offenders in the US criminal system have abused drugs or became a drug trafficker, which points to the relation of drug use and crime.

Mental health problems and drug addiction

There is also a growing concern between the connection of drug addiction and mental health. Studies show that those diagnosed with mental health problems pose a higher risk for drug abuse. Alternatively, people who abuse drugs are more likely to develop mental health problems, especially those who take in multiple substances simultaneously.

  • The relationship between mental health and drug addiction is bi-relational, with one affecting or aggravating the other.
  • 18% of people who are clinically depressed also used drugs as a way to cope.
  • Drug use symptoms can imitate symptoms of depression, and vice versa.
  • People with anxiety disorders are 2-3 times more likely to engage in drug use compared to the typical population.

Drug abuse, violence, and suicide

Drug addiction is also related to risky behaviors such as violence and suicide. It was noted in a recent study that 90% of individuals who attempted suicide have some form of mental illness or have engaged in drug abuse.

  • People who have a drug abuse problem are 6 times more likely to have a serious suicide attempt.
  • Patients undergoing drug abuse problems report that suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts are more common.
  • 75% of individuals who have a substance use disorder problem report to have engaged in some form of violence towards others (physical assault, mugging, or attacking with a weapon).

Seeing the big picture

Drug abuse has a far-reaching effect–it may potentially cause health risks for the individual, and can lead to other harmful behaviors that affect others. Understanding the facts about drug addiction may be helpful in seeing the big picture about what needs to be done.

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Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance use disorder, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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