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Addiction in America
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Addiction In America Today

     Throughout the years an increasingly growing problem has been dubbed a “tsunami” as addiction is taking our country by storm. Addiction knows no bounds, and does not discriminate, but today the younger population is heavily affected, as they start using drugs recreationally and for “fun”, most do not know the world of trouble they could be getting themselves in to.

     Being a recovering addict myself, I experienced this problem head-on, after just using to have fun, all the way to waking up on a daily basis knowing that I have to use. After continuously getting in trouble with the law and hurting loved ones, I was faced with a decision - continue my path of destruction and risk going to jail or go to treatment. So I decided to go to treatment, even though I didnt want to, I was still young and thought the party was not over. Throughout my treatment I started changing and realising what I was doing had completely no benefits for me. Today I live my life striving for better things and for my friends and family. Sadly enough not everyone can find recovery and millions of lives are lost yearly.

    So, you might be thinking “How really big is this problem”? The answer is big enough to surpass the number of deaths from car crashes, and being the number one leading cause of “accidental death”. But these deaths are no accident, every person who ingests an illegal substance has a rick of suffering and possibly dying whether it is from an overdose, a fatal car accident, or an altercation because of drugs. Just to give you some numbers to think about, according to and NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) these are just some of the facts about addiction in America

-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 2010, the most recent year for which NSDUH survey data have been analyzed.

Illicit Drug Use

Illicit drug use in America has been increasing. In 2010, an estimated 22.6 million Americans aged 12 or older—or 8.9 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication (such as a pain reliever, stimulant, or tranquilizer) in the past month. This is up from 8.3 percent in 2002. The increase mostly reflects a recent rise in the use of marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug.

Drug Use by Americans aged 12 or older, as of 2010. Numbers in millions - Illicit drugs: 22.6, Marijuana: 17.4, Psychotheraputics: 7.0, Cocaine: 1.5, Hallucinogens: 1.2, Inhalants: 0.7, Heroin: 0.2.Marijuana use has increased since 2007. In 2010, there were 17.4 million current (past-month) users—about 6.9 percent of people aged 12 or older—up from 14.4 million (5.8 percent) in 2007.

Graph showing that percent of drug users has remained steady over the last decade with notable, but slight increases in illicit drug and marijuana use over the last 5 years.Use of most drugs other than marijuana has not changed appreciably over the past decade or has declined. In 2010, 7.0 million Americans aged 12 or older (or 2.7 percent) had used psychotherapeutic prescription drugs non-medically (without a prescription or in a manner or for a purpose not prescribed) in the past month—similar to previous years. And 1.2 million Americans (0.5 percent) had used hallucinogens (a cate-gory that includes Ecstasy and LSD) in the past month—unchanged from previ-ous years.

Cocaine use has gone down in the last few years; from 2006 to 2010, the number of current users aged 12 or older dropped from 2.4 million to 1.5 million. Methamphetamine use has also dropped, from 731,000 current users in 2006 to 353,000 in 2010.

Most people use drugs for the first time when they are teenagers. There were 3.0 million new users (initiates) of illicit drugs in 2010, or about 8,100 new users per day. Over one-half (57 per-cent) were under 18.

More than half of new illicit drug users begin with marijuana. Next most common is prescription pain relievers, followed by inhalants (which is most common among younger teens).

Pie-chart showing that of 3.0 million new users of illicit drugs Marijuana is the most used at 61.8%. Others include Prescription Pain Relievers at 17.3%, Inhalants at 9.0%, Tranquilizers at 4.6%, Hallucinogens at 3.0%, Stimulants at 2.5%, Sedatives at 1.9%, Cocaine at 0.1% and Heroin at 0.1%.Drug use is highest among people in their late teens and twenties. In 2010, 23.1 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds reported using an illicit drug in the past month.

Graph showing that among age groups, drug use is highest amongst 18- to 20-year -olds and has increased slightly amongst almost all age groups surveyed between 2009 and 2010.

For more information on drug use among adolescents, see Drug Facts: High School and Youth Trends.

Drug use is increasing among people in their fifties. This is, at least in part, due to the aging of the baby boomers, whose rates of illicit drug use have historically been higher than those of previous cohorts.

Graph showing that drug use in general is increasing among people in their '50s.


Drinking by underage persons (ages 12–20) has declined. Current alcohol use by this age group declined from 28.8 to 26.3 percent between 2002 and 2010, while binge drinking declined from 19.3 to 17.0 percent and the rate of heavy drinking went from 6.2 to 5.1 percent.

Binge and heavy drinking are more prevalent among men than among women. In 2010, 30.9 percent of men 12 and older and 15.7 percent of women reported binge drinking (five or more drinks on the same occasion) in the past month; and 10.1 percent of men and 3.4 percent of women reported heavy alcohol use (binge drinking on at least five separate days in the past month).

Driving under the influence of alcohol has also declined slightly. In 2010, an estimated 28.8 million people, or 11.4 percent of persons aged 12 or older, had driven under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year, down from 14.2 percent in 2002. Although this decline is encouraging, any driving under the influence remains a cause for concern.


Fewer Americans are smoking. In 2010, an estimated 58.3 million Americans aged 12 or older, or 23 percent of the population, were current (past month) cigarette smokers. This reflects a continual but slow downward trend from 2002, when the rate was 26 per-cent.

Teen smoking is declining more rapidly. The rate of past-month cigarette use among 12- to 17-year-olds went from 13 percent in 2002 to 8.3 percent in 2010.

Graph showing that among teenagers, smoking has shown a rapid decrease over the last decade.

Dependence/Abuse and Treatment

In 2010, 17.9 million Americans (7.0 percent of the population) were dependent on alcohol or had problems related to their use of alcohol (abuse). This number is basically unchanged since 2002.

After alcohol, marijuana has the highest rate of dependence or abuse among all drugs. In 2010, 4.5 million Americans met clinical criteria for dependence or abuse of marijuana in the past year—more than twice the number for dependence/abuse of pain relievers (1.9 million) and four times the number for dependence/abuse of cocaine (1 mil-lion).

Graph showing that, excluding alcohol, marijuana has the highest rate of abuse or  dependency for Americans. This is followed by, in decreasing order, Prescription Pain Relievers, Cocaine, Tranquilizers, Hallucinogens, Heroin, Stimulants, Sedatives, and Inhalants.There continues to be a large “treatment gap” in this country. In 2010, an estimated 23.1 million Americans (9.1 percent) needed treatment for a problem related to drugs or alcohol, but only about 2.6 million people (1 percent) received treatment.

Learn More

Complete NSDUH findings are available

     Indeed a lot of facts to take in, some of them are really disturbing, but the next question is how to prevent this problem? A lot of the solutions actually can come from our own government and people.

   Today there are a few treatment options are available, some work but it all really depends on the addict and his willing to get clean.

   But, the idea of treatment facilities and hospital giving people DRUGS to get OFF DRUGS, does not make too much sense. For example an addict is told that through taking suboxone or methadone to prevent opiate addiction, they will not have the urge to use such drugs, while this may be true, these drugs can be equally as harmful, and the real question is how long will an addict have to take them for? How can a bunch of pills help a person rid themselves of an existing pill addiction? 

   Another problem is that of some of these addictive opiates being available over-the-counter and with a prescription, making them easily accessible to everyone.

  A lot of help is needed from the community and people who have recover and their families, we have to make as big a buzz as the problem itself, we have to petition to our government for different forms of treatment and regulation of controlled substance in the form of medicine, being available through prescriptions. We have to get word out that help is available, in the form of counseling and Therapeutic Community Treatments.

According to

  • Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.
  • No single treatment is appropriate for everyone.
  • Treatment needs to be readily available.
  • Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse.
  • Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical.
  • Counseling—individual and/or group—and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment.
  • An individual’s treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs.
  • Many drug–addicted individuals also have other mental disorders.
  • Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long–term drug abuse.
  • Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective.
  • Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously, as lapses during treatment do occur.
  • Treatment programs should assess patients for the presence of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases as well as provide targeted risk–reduction counseling to help patients modify or change behaviors that place them at risk of contracting or spreading infectious diseases.

Where to go for help ?

Facts about therapeutic communities 

Narcotics Anonymous meetings are available in nearly every city and every state, through the help of sponsors and fellow peers recovery can be achieved through a strong support network and peer counseling.

Here a directory of the majority of recovery centers in the U.S and an addiction hotline

Addiction Rehab Helpline : GET HELP NOW : Holistic Referral Network

It’s time to spread the word about addiction, how many lives can be saved, like mine was? 

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