Drug addiction in America is a major problem; the branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services known as the SAMHSA conducts the annual NSDUH (National Survey on Drug Use and Health). NSDUH is a source of information mainly on substance use, abuse, as well as dependence among the citizens of the United States who are 12 years and older.

The respondents of the survey report whether they have used certain substances ever in their lifetime over the past 12 months and the last 30 days (also known as current use). Here are the statistics and facts on substance use in the U.S. in the year 2013; roughly 67,800 individuals responded to the survey.

Growing Drug Abuse

  • In 2013, approximately 24.6 million Americans who are 12 years or older (9.4 percent of the U.S. population) had recently taken an illicit drug. That figure was up from 8.3 percent in the previous year.
  • According to data summarized by Georgia Drug detox Atlanta, heroin overdose deaths are up 300% from five years ago in that state alone. Similar or even worse statistics are reported in other states including West Virginia and Vermont.
  • Marijuana use has increased in the U.S. since 2007; in the year 2013, the number of current users was 19.8 million (approximately 7.5 percent of people who are 12 years or older). That number was up from 14.5 million or 5.8 percent in the year 2007.
  • In 2013, 2.5 percent (6.5 million Americans who are 12 years or older) had taken prescription drugs in a nonmedical manner in the past month. These prescription drugs include sedatives, stimulants, tranquilizers, and pain relievers. Also, 0.5 Americans (1.3 million) had used hallucinogens, which is a category that includes LSD and ecstasy, in the past month.
  • The use of cocaine had declined in the previous years. There were 1.5 million current users who are aged 12 years or older. That figure was lower compared to the number in 2002 to 2007 that ranged from 2.0-2.4 million.
  • In 2013, the use of methamphetamine was higher, with 595,000 current users, compared to 353,000 current users in 2010.
  • Most people who use drugs are in their late 20s and late teens. In the year 2013, 22.6 percent of people aged between 18 and 20 years reported taking an illicit drug.


  • Drinking by persons who are underage (ages between 12 and 20) has gone down. The current use of alcohol by this age group decreased from the 28.8-22.7 percent in 2002 and 2013. Heavy episodic drinking had gone down from 19.3 percent to 14.2 percent. The rate of excessive alcohol use declined from 6.2 percent to 3.7 percent.
  • Binge and excessive alcohol use are more popular among men than women. In the year 2013, 16.0 percent of women and 30.2 percent of men, who are 12 years of age and older, reported heavy episodic drinking; 3.3 percent of women and 9.5 percent of men reported excessive alcohol use.

Other Statistics on Treatment and Addiction in America

  • About 73,000 adolescents and 1.3 million adults received treatment at a specialized treatment facility for an AUD in 2013.
  • According to NSDUH, in 2013, just 10.9 percent of people who required treatment in a specialized treatment facility for dependency concern or substance use received it.
  • Addiction in America is considered a treatable illness; OASAS published that approximately 10 percent of Americans, adults aged 18 years and above, claim to be recovering from drug or alcohol abuse issue, and others are finding ways to detox and stay clean.
  • If someone is battling addiction in America, they should seek help in a specialized facility. There are lots of treatment options; National Institute on Drug Abuse states that there are more than 14,500 programs for specialized treatment for addiction and substance abuse, providing various care options including therapeutic methods, pharmaceutical tools, and complementary modes of medicine.

The Role of Technology in Drug Addiction

Technology is nearly touching every aspect of our lives, and drug rehab is no exception. It is thus considered a wise idea to utilize technology for the recovery of drug addiction. As David Lee Scher mentions, the use of computer technology in substance abuse prevention and treatment has been described around a decade ago.

The FDA even just recently approved the first prescription digital therapeutic for the treatment of patients with substance use disorder (SUD). The app, named reSET®, has been proven to increase abstinence from a patient’s substances of abuse during treatment, and when used as part of an outpatient treatment program, increases patient retention in treatment.

There are other efforts on using technology in this space. To name a few, MAP’s Behavioral Health Population Management Platform is used to improve clinical and financial outcomes for behavioral health including SUD and addiction treatment. Avella’s Pain and Addiction Management Guide app on the other hand allows healthcare professionals (HCP) easy access to medication details like indications and usage, dosage and administration, etc.

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