Past-Year Drug Use Reported by 1 in 4 People in the USA

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About 1 in 4 people in the US who are at least 12 years of age used illicit drugs within the past year and more than 1 in 6 had a substance use disorder (SUD) during the same period, according to data from the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

Results of the annual survey were released by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on Monday.

Conducted each year since 1971, the NSDUH provides nationally representative data on self-reported use of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs, as well as data on SUDs, mental health conditions, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and substance use and mental health treatment among Americans who are at least 12 years old.

“The data released today is crucial for informing our policies, protocols, and understanding of our nation’s health,” HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, PhD, the leader of SAMHSA, said in a news release on Monday. “This important work better situates policymakers, researchers, practitioners and the general public to understand the collective behavioral health needs across the country and anticipate the needs of future generations.”

Substance Use Trends

Illicit drug use. About 70.3 million (24.9%) Americans used illicit drugs, including 24.7 million who used illicit drugs other than marijuana. Among the adolescent/young adult population (12- to 20-year-olds), about 1 in 5 used marijuana and 1 in 9 vaped marijuana.

Stimulant misuse. About 10.2 million people over the age of 12 misused stimulants within the past 12 months, including 5.3 million who used cocaine, 4.3 million who misused prescription stimulants, and 2.7 million who engaged in methamphetamine use.

Opioid misuse. Opioids were found to be misused by 8.9 million individuals, while hallucinogens were used by 8.5 million. Misuse of fentanyl was relatively rare, with a rate of about 1 in 250 within the past year, with a rate of illegally made fentanyl use at about 1 in 500. Researchers noted, however, that many who took illegally made fentanyl were unaware, so the survey’s estimate could be low.

Disorders and Severity Levels

SUDs. About 48.7 million (17.3%) of people over the age of 12 had a SUD within the past year. This includes 27.2 million with a drug use disorder (6.1 million with opioid use disorder) and 29.5 million with alcohol use disorder.

Disorder severity. Among those with an SUD, 10.9 million (22.3%) had a severe disorder, meaning they met at least 6 criteria for a use disorder with regards to at least 1 substance. Meanwhile, 11 million (22.6%) had a disorder considered moderate (4-5 criteria met), and 26.8 million (55%) had a mild disorder (2-3 criteria met).

Recovery Rates

Respondents at least 18 years of age were also asked whether they believed they ever had a problem with drug and/or alcohol use. About 30.1 million perceived they have had a substance use problem, while 21.3 million considered themselves to be in recovery or having recovered.

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