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Updated on January 26, 2024

Drug Use Addiction Statistics for 2024

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Key takeaways

  • Drug use addiction is also known as substance use disorder.
  • Drug use addiction affect 35 million individuals globally (WHO)
  • Only one out of every seven individuals affected with drug use addiction receives the necessary treatment (WHO).
  • In 2017, a about 19.7 million adults in the United States were suffered from substance use disorder (Alternative To Meds Center).
  • Around half of individuals aged 12 and older have tried illicit drugs at least once in their lives (Drug Abuse Statistics).
  • Men are more likely to experience drug use addiction then women (The Addiction Center)

Drug use addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is a condition characterized by the compulsive and harmful use of substances, leading to physical and psychological dependence. Individuals with drug addiction often find it challenging to control or stop their drug use, despite the negative consequences it may bring.

Key features of drug addiction include:

  1. Compulsive Drug Use: The person feels a strong and often uncontrollable urge to use the drug regularly.
  2. Loss of Control: Individuals may struggle to limit their drug intake, often taking larger amounts or using the substance for longer than intended.
  3. Continued Use despite Consequences: Despite experiencing negative consequences, such as health problems, strained relationships, or legal issues, the person continues to use the drug.
  4. Cravings: Intense cravings or desires for the drug are common, making it challenging for individuals to resist.
  5. Physical and Psychological Dependence: Dependence on the drug can lead to withdrawal symptoms when not using the substance, prompting a cycle of continued use to avoid discomfort.

Drug addiction can affect various aspects of a person's life, including their physical health, mental well-being, relationships, and overall functioning. It often requires comprehensive and tailored treatment approaches, involving behavioral therapies, counseling, support groups, and, in some cases, medications.

The substances associated with drug addiction can include legal prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, or illegal substances such as opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, and others. Understanding the complex nature of drug addiction is essential for developing effective prevention strategies, early interventions, and supportive treatment options to help individuals overcome the challenges associated with substance use disorders.

How many people experience drug use addiction?

The issue of substance use has been a persistent challenge for years, and the most comprehensive data we currently have spans from 2017 to 2020, with reports extending through 2023. In 2017, a notable 19.7 million adults in the United States were battling with a substance use disorder. Within this substantial group, 8.5 million individuals were simultaneously contending with a comorbid mental health disorder, underscoring the interconnected nature of substance use and mental health challenges. Furthermore, it was revealed that 1 in 8 individuals were engaged in the concurrent use of both drugs and alcohol.

Information from the WHO shows that drug use disorders affect 35 million individuals globally, underscoring the pervasive impact of this issue on a global scale. Shockingly, despite the substantial number of people battling with such disorders, only one out of every seven individuals affected receives the necessary treatment.

Drug use addiction statistics by age

Drug use addiction is most common among teenagers and young adults. Around half of individuals aged 12 and older have tried illicit drugs at least once in their lives. A study found that in 2020, around 37.3 million people in the United States who were 12 years old or older had used illegal drugs within the last 30 days.

Drug use addiction statistics by gender

Studies consistently show that men are more prone to experiencing drug addiction compared to women. This gender disparity in drug use patterns is not only a statistical observation but also an indication of underlying factors that contribute to varying susceptibility.
Various social, biological, and psychological factors may contribute to this observed trend. On a biological level, differences in hormonal composition and brain structure between men and women can influence how they respond to and process drugs. Socially, cultural norms and expectations might play a role, as men and women may face distinct pressures and influences that shape their engagement with substances.
Furthermore, men may encounter unique stressors or societal expectations that could potentially increase their vulnerability to drug addiction. Understanding these nuanced factors is essential for developing targeted prevention and intervention strategies.

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The Addiction Center. Accessed 1/8/2024

National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. Accessed 1/8/2024

World Drug Report (WHO). Accessed 1/8/2024

2023 Drug Abuse Statistics (Alternative to Meds). Accessed 1/8/2024.

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