The Facts

The Facts

Addiction in America

According to SAMHSA, in 2019, 7.8 percent of people aged 12 or older (or 21.6 million people) needed substance use treatment in the past year. Of these 21.6 million, 4.2 million received treatment in that time period, with only 2.6 million receiving it at a specialty treatment facility (2020).  

In 2018, approximately 20.3 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder (SUD) related to their use of alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year. 1

The United States is in the middle of an addiction epidemic: more people died from a drug overdose than from car accidents in 2017, 2,3 and nearly 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each year.4 Only about 17% of those diagnosed with addiction received the treatment they need.5

One study found that when looking to just get assessed for treatment, less than 1/3 of participants got an appointment within 24 hours, 40% of patients waited for treatment between 3–7 days, and 12% waited more than a week.6

In 2018, an estimated 2 million Americans were addicted to opioids, yet only about 400,000 people received treatment at a specialty facility.7

Just 2% of all providers are trained to provide medications for addiction treatment.8

Nearly 90% of large rural counties lack a sufficient number of opioid treatment programs.9

Opioid Epidemic

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl, and others. Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but they can be misused.

Opioids were involved in nearly 47,000 deaths in 2018, which is nearly six times the number of opioid-involved overdose deaths in 1999.10

  • More than 750,000 people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose.11
  • In the United States, two out of three drug overdose deaths in 2018 involved an opioid.12
  • Opioids were involved in 4 out of 10 suspected nonfatal drug overdoses treated in EDs in 2019.13
  • More than 67,300 Americans died from drug-involved overdose in 2018, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids.14
  • The United States makes up around 4% of the world population, yet uses over 80% of the global supply of opioids.15

The Treatment Gap for Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a diagnosed disorder of individuals who meet certain criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

  • An estimated 14.8 million adults have alcohol use disorder, yet only 686,000 (5%) received treatment as a specialized facility.16
  • An estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.17
  • Globally, alcohol misuse is the fifth leading risk factor for premature death and disability; among people between the ages of 15 and 49, it is the first.18
  • In 2015, of the 78,529 liver disease deaths among individuals ages 12 and older, 47 percent involved alcohol.19
  • About 401,000 adolescents ages 12–17 (or 1.6% of this total age group) had AUD in 2018.20
  • In 2010, alcohol misuse cost the United States $249 billion.21
  • Drinking by college students ages 18 to 24 contributes to an estimated 1,519 student deaths each year.22


Source: NIAAA

Source: SAMHSA

Source: SAMHSA

Source: NIAAA

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