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Article Summary

Drug Addiction Statistics

A number of information sources are used to compile America’s drug addiction statistics. Foremost among these sources are the Monitoring the Future survey (MTF) and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). For the 2007 survey, 48,025 students in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades from 403 public and private schools participated.  A portion of the results from this survey are presented in the text below.


    • Overall, the prevalence of underage (ages 12–20) past-month alcohol use and binge drinking has been unchanged since 2002. In 2006, about 10.8 million persons (28.3 percent) in this age group reported drinking in the past month. However, there has been a long-term decline in past-year alcohol use among 8th-graders (persons aged 12 to 13 years), from 46.8 percent in 1994 to 31.8 percent in 2007.
    • In 2006, an estimated 30.5 million people (12.4 percent) aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year. Although this reflects a downward trend from 14.2 percent in 2002, it remains cause a for concern.

    Illicit Drugs

    • Illicit drug use by the Nation’s adolescents is declining for almost all specific types of drugs. When data for 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders are combined, they show that overall, past-month illicit drug use declined by 24 percent between 2001 and 2007, dropping from 19.4 percent to 14.8 percent. The downward trend in illicit drug use has been driven largely by declines in marijuana smoking.
    • Past-year marijuana use among 10th-graders dropped from a peak of 34.8 percent in 1997 to 24.6 percent in 2007.
    • Among 12th-graders, use of marijuana declined from a peak of 38.5 percent in 1997 to 31.7 percent in 2007.
    • Annual prevalence of marijuana use by 8th-graders is down to 10.3 percent in 2007, from a 1996 peak of 18.3 percent.
    • In the 5 years between 2002 and 2006, the level of current marijuana use among persons aged 12 to 17 years declined from 8.2 percent in 2002 to 6.7 percent in 2006.
    • The trend was also seen among older groups. From 2002 to 2006, the rate of current use of marijuana among 18- to 25-year olds dropped from 17.3 to 16.3 percent.
    • Current cocaine use has remained stable between 2002 and 2006 (there were 2.4 million users in 2006 aged 12 or older); however, a positive trend is the decline in use of crack cocaine, particularly among younger age groups. From 2001 to 2007, the percentage of 10th-graders reporting past-month use of crack declined from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent.
    • Despite these downward trends, the MTF survey data highlight some problem areas. For example, there has been a drop in perceived harmfulness of hallucinogens. For the third year in a row, there was a drop in perceived harmfulness of MDMA (ecstasy) among 8th-graders. Tenth-graders reported a decrease in perceived harmfulness of LSD and MDMA, and a decrease in disapproval of LSD. This change in attitude is reflected in an increase in past-year use of MDMA by both 10th- and 12th-graders over the past 2 years.

    Prescription Drugs

    • Also of concern is the increase in past-month nonmedical use of prescription drugs among young adults aged 18 to 25, from 5.4 percent in 2002 to 6.4 percent in 2006. The increase is being driven largely by the use of pain relievers such as OxyContin and Vicodin. Furthermore, in 2006, the number of new initiates in the nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers was roughly even with that of marijuana among persons aged 12 or older.

Finally, consider the following statistics from the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health done by the Office of Applied Studies at the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Close to twenty percent of polled adults over eighteen admitted to using illicit drugs within a month of the poll. Marijuana was the second highest drug used in this poll and came in at just over sixteen percent. This same poll found that males were more likely to abuse both illicit drugs and marijuana while all other drugs were used about evenly with both genders.

Statistically speaking, most adult Americans have tried some type of drug at least once or twice in their lives. This is why it is important for drug addicts to realize that there is no shame in seeking help. Drug addiction statistics regarding both teen and adult drug use are staggering. If you think that you or someone you care about might have a drug addiction problem, contact an expert at a drug and alcohol treatment center. They can help explain that drug addiction is not something to be ashamed of and that a complete recovery from addiction is possible.

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