Nearly one in ten Americans abused illicit drugs in the last month, according to trends in recent data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In the same report, over 52% of all Americans reported being current drinkers of alcohol, which translates to an estimated 135.5 million people in the US. Over 69 million people reported being current users of tobacco.
While these numbers may seem enormous by themselves, they also show that avenues for addiction are all around us and their substance can even seem ordinary. This article discusses the most common forms of addiction – alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana – and examines their current prevalence in the US.
Alcohol remains the most commonly used drug in the United States. The widespread consumption of alcohol leads to abuse in many cases. According to the NIDA report, nearly one-quarter of all people 12 years old or older binge-drank in the past month. That adds up to almost 69 million individuals in the US. Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks on the same occasion.
This relates closely to the statistics on driving under the influence of alcohol. An estimated 11.2% of people, more than one out of every ten people 12 years old or older, drove under the influence at least once in the past year.
While the rates of use and abuse of alcohol have remained steady over the past ten years, its enduring popularity leaves it by far the most commonly used drug.
While over a quarter of the American population used a tobacco product in the past month, that number is steadily declining over time. Even more encouraging, cigarette use among 12 to 17-year-olds has been cut nearly in half.
By far the most common form of smoking is cigarette smoking. A persistent problem, even while the overall numbers are dwindling, cigarette smoking is still often an association harder drugs. The report found that among 12 to 17-year-olds who smoked cigarettes in the past month, over half had also used an illicit drug. Only 6.4% who did not smoke cigarettes had.
Overall the rates of tobacco use, from tobacco to cigars, smokeless tobacco, and pipes, are slowly declining, however, with over one in four Americans still using a tobacco product regularly, use of the drug is still incredibly common.
The abuse of illicit drugs in the US has increased over the past ten years, for the most part, because of an increase in marijuana use. Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the US. It was used by nearly 19 million people in the past month, according to the NIDA report. That is almost three times the amount of individuals who abused psychotherapeutic medications (such as pain relievers, stimulants, tranquilizers), the next most common drug.
While the use of most other illicit drugs has remained the same or declined over the past decade, marijuana use has increased dramatically. In the last five years alone, the number of marijuana users has risen by 4.5 million people. Compounding this growing threat, it is reported that over half of new illicit drug users begin with marijuana.
Addiction comes in all types, from illegal drug use to abuse of alcohol and tobacco to the misuse of prescription drugs. While many of the most common forms of abuse and addiction are in decline in America, some others, marijuana especially, are sharply increasing. From the common to the less well known, however, addiction is a disease with devastating consequences. The most important thing is to know that whatever form an addiction takes, treatment, help, and support are available.
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