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6 Surprising Substance Use Statistics for 2022: Have We Made Any Noticeable Progress Toward Saving Lives? 

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As a new year approaches, some people may be wondering where America stands in terms of substance abuse today.  Did we succeed in bringing down the number of addictions? More importantly, did we reduce fatal overdoses?  Let’s look at some revealing and surprising substance abuse statistics for 2022 to find out if we’ve made any progress.

In light of the ongoing opioid epidemic and newer, more powerful synthetic substances like fentanyl making drugs more lethal, it seems as if we take a step ahead and two steps back in the fight against drugs.  Substance use in 2022 is still a national crisis in the U.S., and the statistics reveal a grim truth.  As of right now, here’s where we stand on substance abuse in America.

Substance Abuse Statistics for 2022

Substance UseEstimates provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration indicate that about 20.4 million adults were diagnosed with substance use disorders (SUDs) in the past year.

Substance abuse statistics also show that alcohol remains the most widely abused substance this year.  More than 10% of Americans struggle with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) today.  In descending order, marijuana, prescription drugs, opioids, and stimulants are also commonly abused, often together with alcohol.   

Rates of Illicit Drug Use by the Numbers

Illicit substance use rates are higher than the rates of substance use disorders.  Surprisingly, more than half of all Americans admitted to trying illicit substances in their lifetime.  

These are the current numbers related to illicit substance use in 2022:

  • 49.6 million – Marijuana
  •   9.3 million – Prescription painkillers
  •   7.1 million – Hallucinogens
  •   6.2 million – Tranquilizers or sedatives
  •   5.1 million – Cocaine
  •   5.1 million – Prescription stimulants
  •   2.6 million – LSD
  •   2.6 million – Methamphetamines
  •   2.5 million – Ecstasy
  •   2.4 million – Inhalants
  •   0.9 million – Heroin
  •   0.7 million – Crack

From this information, treatment providers can see where to focus their attention to ensure the most effective recovery outcomes.

Influence of Co-Occurring Disorders on Substance Use

Experts in the fields of mental health and addiction treatment estimate that 37.9% of people with SUDs also have a co-occurring mental health issue.  Mental health disorders often cause a person to self-medicate with prescription drugs or illicit substances.  The most common co-occurring disorders that accompany addiction include:  

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Personality disorders
  • PTSD
  • Schizophrenia

Government researchers recommend addiction treatment programs that include dual-diagnosis care for these individuals.  Simultaneous treatment of addiction and mental health disorders increases the chances of lasting recovery.

Rates of Fatal Overdoses in 2022

Provisional data from the CDC dated October 2022 shows that more than 100,000 people have died from drug overdoses so far this year.  This total continues to trend upward due to two primary factors:  (1) stress from COVID-19 issues; (2) the increasing availability of deadly drugs such as fentanyl.

Teens and Substance Use in 2022

Could you use some good news right now?  Remarkably, teen substance use has shown the biggest drop since the surveys began in 1975, according to the NIDA.  Illicit drug use by teens dropped 12% among 10th graders, and 5% among 8th and 12th graders.  This report includes teenagers’ use of marijuana, nicotine, and alcohol.  Let’s hope this positive trend continues.

Researchers agree that part of this decrease is due to COVID lockdowns which reduced the availability of illicit drugs.  Other theories suggest that reduced peer pressure and increased family involvement played a role in the decrease. 

Barriers to Substance Use Treatment

Unfortunately, many people who want substance use treatment are faced with substantial barriers.  According to NIDA, the following obstacles prevent many individuals from getting the help they need:

  • 38.4% report they aren’t ready to stop using
  • 35.1% said they can’t afford the cost of treatment
  • 13.1% are worried that entering rehab will reflect negatively on them
  • 11.5% said they don’t know where to go for help
  •   9.9% have insurance but it doesn’t cover addiction treatment
  •   9.0% claim that the treatment programs didn’t have the type of treatment they desired

These facts about substance use in 2022 shed light on the need for more accessible treatment.  Cost seems to be the main barrier for people who need treatment.  Therefore, providing affordable treatment or access to insurance should be a priority.

Summary of Substance Use in 2022 and What We Need To Do Next

During 2022, Americans have had many new challenges to deal with.  As a result, stress levels are higher, and depression is more prevalent.  A lot of people are seeking relief, and many of them turn to drugs or alcohol as a source of comfort.

Although the substance abuse statistics are a mix of positive and negative data, it seems the negative stats take the lead.  We still have a lot of work to do as a society and as individuals.  Reducing addictions and saving lives becomes more likely if we improve education and prevention efforts.  

Furthermore, changing the public perception of addiction will also go a long way toward helping people get treatment.  Studies show that the stigma surrounding addiction creates a significant barrier that prevents many people from seeking help.  According to NIDA, only 10.3% of people with SUD receive addiction treatment.  We must understand what causes addiction before we can reduce the stigma associated with it.  

A Solution for Substance Use Disorders at Design for Change Recovery

At Design for Change Recovery, we are concerned about the substance abuse statistics in our nation.  For that reason, we are dedicated to helping reduce the number of SUDs and overdoses in America.  We do this by providing a comprehensive, evidence-based treatment approach that works.  

Our program focuses on healing the whole person by addressing the emotional, physical, and mental factors that contribute to substance use. As a result of this personalized treatment method, our clients enjoy long-term recovery success.

Learn more about our treatment program by contacting our Lancaster, CA facility today.  One of our representatives will be happy to recommend a plan specifically for your unique situation.     


6 Surprising Substance Use Statistics for 2022: Have We Made Any Noticeable Progress Toward Saving Lives?