People around the world struggle with drug use every day. It’s not an inconsequential matter. In fact, according to the National Center for Drug Use Statistics1 (NCDUS), if you count alcohol and tobacco, 165 million people used some type of substance — 53 million people used an illegal substance — in 2020. The numbers account for individuals aged 12-17, as well.

Thankfully, treatment centers exist across the country. If you or a loved one is facing addiction, you can visit one of these treatment centers or you can seek help through a state-sponsored substance use program. There are several options available to those seeking help.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of drug addiction statistics for 2021, as well as data regarding admission rates into substance use programs around the nation. The following information and statistics use data from the NCDUS, including:

  • Admission rates
  • Substance used at time of admission
  • Underage admission rates
  • Discharge reasons

Here are our findings.

Don’t let pride or embarrassment hold you back from a bright future. Cardinal Recovery can help.

Substance Use Admission Rate by State

The number of people aged 12 and over admitted into a substance use treatment center per 100,000 residents determines the admission rates. The top three states for admission rates are:

  • Maryland
  • Connecticut
  • South Dakota

The bottom three states for admission rates are:

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  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Idaho

Substance Used at Time of Admission

This statistic looks at the most common substances individuals were using at the time of their admission into a treatment center. Of all substances, heroin and methamphetamines comprise a considerable percentage of the usage. Heroin is the most widely used substance at time of admission for 17 states, and methamphetamines are most widely used at time of admission in 13 states. Heroin accounts for more than half of Massachusetts’ admissions, while other states’ highest admission rates are due to alcohol and marijuana, or a combination of the two.

Underage Admission Rates

It can be heart wrenching to think that underage youths succumb to the temptations of substance use, but it’s a fact that we cannot ignore. For the purposes of this study, youth admissions are individuals admitted for substance use who are between the ages of 12 and twenty.

The states with the most underage/youth admissions are:

  • Hawaii
  • South Carolina
  • Idaho

The states with the lowest number of underage/youth admissions are:

  • Washington, D.C.
  • New Mexico
  • Connecticut

Success Rates of Substance Use Treatment Centers by State

It is always the goal to help individuals leave substance use behind, but for some individuals, it’s a hard habit to break. The following data looks at which states seem to have the most successful treatment programs and those that appear to have the least effective programs.

States with the most success have higher rates of discharge due to program completion, while states with the least success have the highest rates of discharge because of individuals leaving the program prior to completion. Colorado, Florida, and Nebraska have the highest rates of substance use program completion.

Conversely, Louisiana, Arizona, and Indiana have the highest rates of program dropouts. In Louisiana, three out of every four individuals in a substance use treatment program will drop out before completion. In Arizona, one of every two will drop out.

On a higher note, three of every four individuals who enter a treatment program in Colorado will complete it.

What Makes Substance Use Treatment Effective?

To understand treatment effectiveness, it’s important to understand the “why” behind substance use, how recovery specialists apply treatment, treatment accessibility, and more.

Addiction Affects the Individual’s Brain Functions

While complex, addiction is treatable. Drugs alter the individual’s brain structure and functions, creating changes that remain even after the person has stopped using. This is one explanation why drug users can relapse after abstaining for long periods of time — despite that they know how devastating the consequences of their use can be.

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Treatment

Treatment must take into account the whole person, and no two people are alike. Treatment methods must also consider the substance used. Substance use treatment centers match settings, intervention types, and services to each individual’s specific issues and needs, which is crucial to their ultimate success and ability to return to a productive life.

Treatment Must Be Easy to Access

A substance user might not be certain they want treatment. It’s vital that the moment they decide they need and want help, the help is there. As with many chronic diseases, the sooner treatment is available after an individual becomes affected, the better their chances of a positive outcome.

The Best Substance Use Treatment Considers All of an Individual’s Needs — Not Just Their Drug Use

Effective treatment addresses drug use, but it also looks at other medical, social, employment, psychological, or legal issues the individual faces. The best treatment is also age-, gender-, and culture-appropriate.

Treatment Must Be for an Adequate Amount of Time

The time it takes for a person to stop using a substance, return to their life, and remain abstinent all depends on the specific needs and problems of each person and the degree to which each affects their life. Most recent studies show that most addicted people must spend at least three months in a treatment program to either significantly reduce or entirely cease the substance use.

Better outcomes come from longer treatment durations. Substance use recovery is a journey, and it may involve several steps to reach it. If a relapse occurs, it is a signal that the recovery journey is not yet complete. In that case, treatment should either continue as-is or undergo modification to better work for the user.

Clients often leave treatment too soon, so a good substance use treatment program will include strategies that keep clients engaged and in the program.

A Combination of Treatments Is Often Necessary

Medication is an important part of the treatment plan for many individuals. When coupled with counseling programs and behavioral therapy, this can equate to success. For instance, medications like methadone can effectively help clients refrain from illegal drug use of such substances as heroin and opioids.

Individuals addicted to nicotine and tobacco products can replace their cravings with patches or gum, as well as receive other treatments. Bupropion is a mood-stabilizing drug that has a tendency to block nicotine cravings as part of a broad overall treatment.

Continuous Assessment and Modification Is the Key to a Successful Recovery

Clients might require various combinations of treatments and services over the course of a recovery journey. Services such as counseling, medications, medical care, parenting help, and job assistance are all part of the path. For many clients, a continuous care approach with variable intensity according to need offers the best chance for success.

Detox Is Only the Beginning

While a medically assisted detox safely manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal and can even lay the groundwork for an effective long-term treatment plan, detoxing alone often isn’t sufficient for achieving long-term abstinence. Clients need encouragement to continue a treatment plan once they’ve completed detox. Motivation and incentives from the very beginning go a long way in facilitating engagement.

Wondering what substance use treatment plan is right for you? Contact us and we can walk you through your options.

Drug Addiction Statistics — 2021

If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, you are certainly not alone. Based on the following addiction statistics, an extremely large segment of the population in America is suffering as well.

Addiction is a deadly disease that affects millions of Americans each year. From those with alcohol addiction or drugs addictions like opioids and cocaine to co-occurring disorders, more people are suffering from addiction than you may think.

Here are some of the most significant statistics about addiction in America:

  • The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 19.7 million Americans (above the age of 12) suffered from some type of substance use disorder in 2017
  • 38% of adults have a drug use disorder
  • 1 out of every 8 American adults suffer from both a drug and alcohol addiction at the same time
  • Over 8 million Americans also suffer from co-occurring disorders, which is the combination of a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder
  • Deaths from drug overdosage have tripled since 1990, and from 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 Americans died due to overdose
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that drug use and addiction costs the United States over $740 billion every year

Alcohol Addiction Statistics

  • In 2017, almost 74% of adults suffering from a substance use disorder struggled with an alcohol use disorder, which adds up to 14.5 million Americans above the age of 12
  • Alcohol causes 1 in every 20 deaths and is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States
  • Out of the 15 million people who have an alcohol use disorder, only about 7% of them ever receive treatment
  • More than 50% of the adults in America have a family member or multiple family members who have a drinking problem

Opioid Addiction Statistics

  • Around 2.1 million American adults struggle from an opioid use disorder
  • Almost every single day, 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose
  • Approximately 1 out of every 10 people who try opioids will later become addicted to the substance
  • Since 1999, there has been a 300% increase in the sale of opioid pain killers

Heroin Addiction Statistics

  • In 2017, there were about 652,000 people aged 12 and older who suffered from a heroin use disorder
  • 1 out of every 4 people who try heroin will become addicted
  • In 2016, over 15,000 Americans died due to overdosing on heroin

Heroin addiction often also involves using other substances as well:

  • Those with an alcohol addiction are 2 times more likely to be addicted to heroin
  • Individuals with a marijuana addiction are 3 times more likely to be addicted to heroin
  • Those addicted to cocaine can be 15 times more likely to be addicted to heroin
  • Individuals addicted to prescription drugs are up to 40 times more likely to be addicted to heroin, as well

Cocaine Addiction

  • There are about 5 million Americans who regularly use cocaine
  • In 2017, around 1 million Americans over the age of 12 struggled from a cocaine use disorder
  • The same year, 1 out of every 5 overdose deaths involved cocaine
  • Between 2016 and 2017, there was a 34% increase in cocaine-related overdose deaths

Marijuana Addiction

  • Around 43% of American adults have admitted to trying marijuana in their lifetime
  • 30-40 million Americans will use marijuana in any given year
  • In 2017, 4.1 million American adults over the age of 12 suffered from marijuana use disorder
  • The vast majority of people who battle marijuana use disorder are between the ages 12 and 25
  • In 1990, an average batch of marijuana only contained about 4% THC, but in 2017, an average batch of marijuana contained around 12% THC, making it much more powerful. The strongest marijuana strain in 2021 is currently 30% THC.

Addiction Treatment Statistics

  • For the 20.7 million American adults who needed treatment for a substance use disorder in 2017, only 4 million actually received treatment
  • Over 14,500 specialized substance use treatment facilities exist in the United States, providing a wide range of recovery options
  • There are more than 2 million members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) around the globe
  • Almost 1 out of every 10 Americans, or 10%, are in recovery from a substance use issue

Cardinal Recovery can ensure you have the tools you need, including a safe and supportive environment, to recover from your substance use. We aim to empower you through each phase of your unique recovery path. Do you want to rediscover your purpose and lead a productive life, clean and sober?

The road to recovery is different for every person. If you’re ready to begin, contact Cardinal Recovery. We can help you lay the framework for a prosperous future. One day at a time.


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