The US Drug Epidemic by the Numbers

“This epidemic is a national health emergency. Nobody has seen anything like what is going on now. As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue. It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction.”

~President Donald Trump

Every day, we read and hear another story about the ongoing drug crisis in America. In fact, we are so inundated with stories that we have become numb. We lose track of how big the problem truly is.

Epidemic Perspective #1 – More Drug Use Means More Addicts

Released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that more than 130 million Americans age 12 and up have used a drug illicitly at some point in their life.

Because the roots of drug addiction start early, it is important to note that almost HALF of all US adolescents have tried illegal drugs.

1 out of every 9 Americans use illegal drugs on a regular basis, and it is estimated that 20.5 million people in this country meet the criteria for a medical diagnosis of Substance Use Disorder.

Epidemic Perspective #2 – Overdose Deaths Continue to Rise

But widespread drug use and high rates of addiction also mean more overdose deaths.

In 2017, the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention estimates that there were 71,600 overdose deaths in this country. This makes 2017 was the single-deadliest year in history, in terms of drug poisonings.

To give that number some perspective, just that one year‘s total make more lost lives than during the entire Vietnam War.

But it gets worse – for the past 19 years, EVERY year has set a tragic new “record”:

  • 1999: 16,849
  • 2000: 17,415 (+3%)
  • 2001: 19,394 (+11%)
  • 2002: 23,514 (+21%)
  • 2003: 25,785 (+10%)
  • 2004: 27,424 (+7%)
  • 2005: 29,813 (+9%)
  • 2006: 34,425 (+16%)
  • 2007: 36,010 (+5%)
  • 2008: 36,450 (+1%)
  • 2009: 37,004 (+2%)
  • 2010: 38,329 (+4%)
  • 2011: 41,340 (+8%)
  • 2012: 41,502 (+1%)
  • 2013: 43,982 (+6%)
  • 2014: 47,055 (+7%)
  • 2015: 52,404 (+11.4%)
  • 2016: 64,070 (+22.3%)
  • 2017: 71,600 (estimated) (+11.8%)

In one generation, overdose deaths have skyrocketed 425%. Within the last five years alone, the number of fatal drug overdoses has increased by 63%!

Epidemic Perspective #3 – Too Few People Are in Treatment

Despite this crisis, not enough people are getting the help they need.  Only about 9% of people with SUD are receiving specialized treatment.

To society, this is unacceptable, because timely intervention and effective treatment saves lives.

To the struggling individuals and their families, however, there is a more personal implication. If you or someone you care about is struggling with ANY addictive disorder – alcoholism, illicit drug abuse, or the misuse of prescription medications, DO WHATEVER IT TAKES to get them into treatment.

For a confidential assessment and to discuss individualized options for recovery, contact Chapman House Treatment Centers TODAY. Since 1978, Chapman House has provided premier addiction recovery services in Southern California. Located conveniently in Orange County, Chapman House offers every level of recovery services, from medically-supervised detox to residential rehab to intensive outpatient programs.


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