How Prevalent Was Substance Use in 2022?  The Statistics May Shock You

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Most people are aware of the substance use epidemic in America.  But, we need to put the situation into proper perspective.  To do that, we should look at last year’s substance use and the associated overdoses and deaths.  

Solutions to the drug and alcohol problem begin when we have a clear picture of what is happening.  With that in mind, take a look at the following substance use statistics for 2022.  Prepare to be shocked.

Just How Prevalent Was Substance Use in 2022?

Let’s begin with the general substance use statistics and then break them down according to specific substances.  

Here are some general statistics on substance use in 2022 in America:

  • People between the ages of 19 to 25 are the most likely demographic to use illicit substances.  
  • About 9 out of 10 people with SUD began using before age 18.
  • Alcohol is the leading cause of substance use in the United States.
  • More than 20 million Americans (6% of the population) were diagnosed with SUD in 2022.
  • Fatal overdoses tripled between 1999 and 2019, and most were attributed to opioid use.

Substance use is a global problem that accounts for many thousands of fatal overdoses each year.  Not only does it impact individuals, but substance use also has far-reaching effects on society, families, and communities.

Alcohol Statistics 

Substance Use DisordersAlcohol abuse accounts for about 5% of deaths worldwide each year.  In the U.S. alone, alcohol abuse accounts for 73% of substance abuse statistics. 

  • In the U.S., as many as six people die every day as a result of alcohol poisoning.  Most of these individuals are between the ages of 35 and 64.
  • Alcohol-related car accidents claim 30 American lives every day.
  • More than 38 million people binge drink at least four times a month.
  • Alcohol affects the central nervous system and causes more than 200 different medical conditions and diseases.  
  • Men between the ages of 18 and 25 are the most likely to binge drink and have AUD.
  • Out of 15 million people with AUD, only 8% receive professional treatment.
  • Overall, alcohol takes the lives of more than 95,000 Americans each year.

As a legal, readily available substance, alcohol is considered the gateway to abusing other substances.  

Opioid Statistics

Substance Use DisordersThe opioid epidemic has plagued the United States for over a decade.  The number of lives impacted by opioid addiction is astounding.  Here are some examples of the devastation caused by opioids and their analogs such as fentanyl in 2022:

  • About 3.4% of Americans over the age of 12 misuse opioids at least once in 12-months.   
  • More than 50,000 people die from opioid misuse every year.
  • At least 2.7 million people qualify as having an opioid use disorder in America.
  • Opioids are responsible for more than 38% of all drug overdose deaths.  Many of the drugs were obtained legally with Hydrocodone being the most popular.
  • In one year alone, opium production in Afghanistan increased by 87%.  That equals about 9,000 tons annually.
  • The cost of opioid abuse to society reached a staggering $78.5 billion in legal cost, productivity, and healthcare related to opioid misuse.
  • Pharmacies fill more than 153 million opioid prescriptions each year.

Increasing opioid costs lead people to turn to cheaper, more deadly alternatives like heroin and Fentanyl.  

Prescription Drug Statistics

Prescription drug misuse has been a problem in the United States for several decades.  In 2022, the statistics haven’t improved and people continue to die from problems related to prescription drug misuse.  

  • Americans spend more on prescription drugs than any other nation.
  • About 66% of Americans (131 million) are taking some type of prescription drug.
  • Older Americans make up the majority of individuals taking prescription drugs.  The more they age, the more drugs they receive.
  • More than 16 million people misuse psychotherapeutic drugs.  About 9 million misuse prescription painkillers.

It’s also shocking to learn that many senior citizens aren’t aware that they have become dependent on or addicted to their medications.  According to the CDC, overdose deaths among people aged 65 or older have tripled in the past two decades.  

What Age Group Is Most Likely to Develop Substance Use Disorder?

The prevalence of substance use in America is not restricted to any specific demographic.  Anyone can develop substance use disorder regardless of age, financial standing, sex, race, or religion.  However, some groups are more likely to experience substance use disorders.  For instance:

  • About 17% of females and 22% of males have used drugs in 2022.
  • Youth are more likely to use drugs, but people over 40 years of age are increasingly involved with substance use.  Drug-related deaths have increased by 3% annually among people over 50 years of age.
  • People most at risk for substance use are those who previously used drugs or who were released from prison.
  • About 80% of veterans struggle with alcohol addiction and 7% misuse illegal drugs.

People who struggle with substance use need support and compassion.  They did not intentionally become addicted to drugs or alcohol.  Recovery will be a difficult and lifelong effort but these individuals can overcome their substance use disorders with the right help.

Design for Change Recovery Can Help Combat Substance Use

The best defense against becoming a substance use statistic is to seek professional treatment.  If you are experimenting with illicit drugs or struggling with alcohol use, take action before the consequences affect your life and health permanently.  

Reach out to Design for Change Recovery to get the most effective treatment available today.  

We offer an evidence-based, customized addiction treatment program designed especially for your unique needs.  Contact us at our Lancaster, CA facility to learn more.


  • nida.nih.gov/ – NIDA IC Fact Sheet 2022
  • drugfree.org/ – Overdose Deaths in Older Adults Have More Than Tripled in Past Two Decades
How Prevalent Was Substance Use in 2022?  The Statistics May Shock You