Substance Abuse Statistics

Among Americans aged 12 years and older, 31.9 million are current illegal drug users (used within the last 30 days.)

• 11.7% of Americans 12 and over, use illegal drugs.

• 53 million or 19.4% of people 12 and over have used illegal drugs or misused prescription drugs within the last year.

• If alcohol and tobacco are included, 165 million or 60.2% of Americans aged 12 years or older currently abuse drugs (i.e., used within the last 30 days).

• 139.8 million Americans 12 and over drink alcohol.

• 14.8 million or 10.6% of them have an alcohol use disorder.

• 58.8 million people use tobacco.

• 31.9 million use illegal drugs.

• 8.1 million or 25.4% of illegal drug users have a drug disorder.

• 2 million people or 24.7% of those with drug disorders have an opioid disorder; this includes prescription pain relievers or “pain killers” and heroin).

Drug Abuse Demographics

Drug abuse and substance disorders are more likely to affect young males.

  • 22% of males and 17% of females used illegal drugs or misused prescription drugs within the last year.
  • 5% of people in non-metropolitan, rural counties used illegal drugs compared to 20.2% of people in larger metropolitan counties.
  • Drug use is highest among persons between the ages of 18-25 at 39%compared to persons aged 26-29, 34%
  • 70% of users who try an illegal drug before age 13 develop a substance abuse disorder within the next 7 years compared to 27% of those who try an illegal drug after age 17.
  • 47% of young people use an illegal drug by the time they graduate from high school; other users within the last 30 days include:
    • 5% of 8th graders.
    • 20% of 10th graders.
    • 24% of 12th graders.

Number of people in the US who used selected illegal drugs in 2018 (in millions)