Last updated: February 24, 2020
Drug abuse is an issue that consequently causes significant negative impact in the workplace, and in society as a whole. It affects everything from productivity to safety to morale.
Up to date drug abuse statistics give employers, parents, and lawmakers the information needed to fight back. It enables us to identify signs of drug use, understand trends, and find more effective ways to prevent use and treat users. This means it’s essential for us to know popular drugs and trends.
It is estimated that 9.9% of people between the ages of 12 and 17 are current alcohol users. This percentage increases to 56.3% with people aged between 18 to 25 years. In 2017 alone, 55.8% of adults above the age of 26 were alcohol users. 5.3% of adolescents between the age of 12 and 17 were binge drinkers. This means they consumed more than four alcoholic drinks in one occasion in the past month. 36.9% of adults between 18 and 25 years and 24.7% of adults above 26 years were binge drinkers.
Heavy alcohol use is defined as binge drinking more than five times per month. 0.7% of adolescents, 9.6% of young adults and 6.2% of adults over the age of 26 are heavy drinkers. A total of 6.1% of the total population of people above the age of 12 are heavy drinkers.
Tobacco abuse is the use of cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. Most of the tobacco users above the age of 12 are cigarette smokers. This is about 48.7 million people of the total 61.1 million tobacco users. Smokeless tobacco is used by 8.6 million people: 2.3 million people use pipe tobacco and 12.5 million people smoke cigars.
3.2% of adolescents are cigarette smokers. This is number has reduced from 13% in 2002. 22.3% of young adults and 18.9% of adults over the age of 26 were cigarette smokers in 2017. Both these numbers are also a reduction from statistics of 2002. 57.1% of the 48.7 million cigarette smokers are daily smokers.
Recreational marijuana is illegal in most states across the United States. However, medical marijuana is legalized in nine states including the District of Columbia. 9.6% of people over the age of 12 are users of marijuana. This is an increase from statistics taken between 2002 and 2016 in all age groups. 6.5% of adolescents, 22.1% of young adults and 7.9% of adults are current marijuana users.
These are prescription drugs including sedatives, stimulants, and tranquilizers. Misuse of these drugs is defined as use in a way that is not directed by a doctor, including use in greater amounts, using them longer than prescribed and use without a prescription.
The other disturbing form of psychotherapeutic drugs is stimulants such as anorectic stimulants, amphetamine products, Provigil, and methylphenidate products. 0.5% of adolescents, 2.1% of young adults and 0.5% of adults are believed to have misused stimulants in the past month.
Some people misuse tranquilizers such as muscle relaxants and benzodiazepine tranquilizers. 0.5% of adolescents, 1.6% of young adults and 0.5% of adults were misusing tranquilizers in the 2017 statistics by NSDUH. The statistics also showed an abuse of sedatives such as zaleplon, eszopiclone, and zolpidem products benzodiazepine sedatives, and barbiturates. 0.1% of adolescents, 0.2% of young adults and 0.1% of adults were found to have misused sedatives.
These statistics include the use of crack cocaine. 0.8% of people above the age of 12 were cocaine and crack users. 26,000 adolescents representing less than 0.1% of the age group’s population were cocaine users. This is a lower number compared to the statistics between 2012 and 2016. 1.9% of young adults and 0.7% of adults were current users of cocaine. These numbers are similar to previous statistics
Hallucinogens include psilocybin mushrooms, PCP, LSD, mescaline, ketamine, Ecstacy, peyote and DMT/AMT among others. 0.5% of the population were found to be users of hallucinogens. 0.6% of adolescents, 1.7% of young adults and 0.3% of adults were found to make up this population of hallucinogen users.
There are several varieties of inhalant substances including cleaning fluids, spray paint, gasoline, aerosol sprays, glue, nitrous oxide, felt pens, and amyl nitrate among others.0.6% and 0.5% of adolescents and young adults were current users of inhalants respectively. This number goes down for adults aged 26 and older, to 0.1%.
The opiate crisis
In 2017, about 11.4 million people misused opiates within the past year. These include 886,000 heroin users and 11.1 million pain reliever abusers. About 62.6 percent of those who misused pain relievers said the main reason for doing so was to help relieve physical pain, and 53.1 percent asked a friend or relative for the last pain reliever they misused.
Studies show that every day, over 115 people in the United States, die after an overdose on opiates. Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that alone in the U.S., this causes an economic burden of 78.5 billion dollars a year. On October 3, 2018, the U.S Senate passed a bill to address this crisis. There are also increased calls for hair follicle drug testing. Hopefully, these efforts will help reduce the misuse of opiates, especially in the workplace.
These statistics show that drug abuse is still a much larger problem than most people realize. And it’s only growing. Hundreds of people die every day from drug overdoses. Thousands more are admitted to the emergency room, according to CDC. This is because, in part, the prevalence of some drugs, like opiates, leads many people to mistakenly believe that they are safer than they really are.