Facts About Illegal Drug Use

Statistics for Illicit Drug Use in the United States


According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), illicit drug use is widespread in the United States. A 2018 survey indicated that 11.7% of Americans aged 12 or older used an illicit drug within the past month. In addition, 2% of people aged 12 and older engaged in the non-medical use of a psychotherapeutic drug in the past month.

Facts about emergency room visits related to drug use:

  • On average over 1 million emergency department visits due to drug poisoning are made each year (2008-2011).
  • The age group most require an emergency department visit as a result of drug poisoning was adults from 20-34 years old. 
  • Nearly ¼ of emergency department visits resulting from drug poisoning required hospitalization.
  • Drug poisoning accounts for 90% of poisoning deaths in the United States.
  • Over 40,000 people are killed as a result of poisoning each year, making it the leading cause of injury-related death.

Drug Use and Drug-related Overdoses Are Increasing

Research shows that drug use and drug-related overdoses are increasing in the country. Non-prescription use of opioids, as well as methamphetamines, is driving the rise in drug overdoses. The problem is persistent in nearly every geographical location. 

Many experts fear that the pandemic resulted in a devastating rise in the number of people with a diagnosable substance use disorder. The number of drug overdose deaths increased significantly in 2020. Synthetic opioids (other than methadone) were increased 45% from 2016 to 2017 and continues to climb. Synthetic opioids include fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol.

Seeking Treatment

Despite the rising numbers, few people seek treatment for drug dependency or addiction. Today, there are more options than ever for treatment. If you or a loved one are struggling with a reliance on drugs or alcohol, get the help you need now.