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Trends and Statistics

Treatment Statistics

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Survey on Drug Use and Health,1 23.5 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009 (9.3 percent of persons aged 12 or older). Of these, only 2.6 million—11.2 percent of those who needed treatment—received it at a specialty facility.

Nationwide Trends

A major source of information on substance use, abuse, and dependence among Americans aged 12 and older is the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Following are facts and statistics on substance use in America from 2012, the most recent year for which NSDUH survey data have been analyzed.

High School and Youth Trends

Every year, the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey measures drug, alcohol, and tobacco use and related attitudes among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. Following are facts and statistics about youth substance use from the 2013 MTF report

Drug-Related Hospital Emergency Room Visits

National estimates on drug-related visits to hospital emergency departments (ED) are obtained from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN),1,2 a public health surveillance system managed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). DAWN data* are based on a national sample of general, non-Federal hospitals operating 24-hour Emergency Departments (EDs).

Substance Use in American Indian Youth is Worse than We Thought

We have long known that American Indian communities are particularly vulnerable to problems with substance use, which are tied in part to limited socioeconomic opportunity. But because national surveys fail to fully capture drug use patterns on or near reservations, the true scope of the problem has been elusive. A new study focusing on American Indian youth reveals alarming substance use patterns, including patterns of drug use beginning much earlier than is typical for other Americans.

Drugged Driving

Drugged Driving: In 2009, 1 in 3 fatally injured drivers tested positive for drugs.

NIH system to monitor emerging drug trends

An innovative National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) is being developed to monitor emerging trends that will help health experts respond quickly to potential outbreaks of illicit drugs such as heroin and to identify increased use of designer synthetic compounds.


Although Relatively Few, “Doctor Shoppers” Skew Opioid Prescribing

One out of every 143 U.S. patients who received a prescription for an opioid painkiller in 2008 obtained prescriptions from multiple physicians in a pattern that suggests misuse or abuse of the drugs.

In Nationwide Survey, More Students Use Marijuana, Fewer Use Other Drugs

Almost one-third (32 percent) of the roughly 42,000 Monitoring the Future survey respondents reported having used marijuana during their lifetime. However, abuse of many other drugs—methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and some prescription medications—declined.

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