Despite widespread education about the dangers of drugs, drug addiction continues to be more prevalent than many people realize. The rate of abuse of certain drugs is increasing, causing a staggering increase in drug-related deaths. In addition, many children are affected by parents and grandparents who use or have used drugs.
Illicit drug use refers to underage drinking, abuse of prescription pills, and taking illegal drugs. About 8.9% of Americans over the age of 12 use illicit drugs. To put this into perspective, this means that out of every 9 people you meet, 1 is likely to have used an illicit drug in the past month.
The most commonly abused illicit drugs are:
- Alcohol, with 6.5 million teens admitting to binge drinking, and 2.5 to heavy drinking
- Marijuana, the use of which increased from 5.8% to 6.9% from 2007 to 2010
- Prescription painkillers, the third most abused drug; the abuse rate has risen about 500% since 1990
While the rate of heroin addiction has fallen in some areas, in other areas it remains high, such as Baltimore, Maryland. In addition, methamphetamine abuse, while low overall, is strongly associated with rural areas. For this reason, anti-addiction efforts must take the local situation into account.
Who does Drug Abuse Affect?
Drug addiction doesn’t just affect the user, but their family and friends. This is especially the case when drug abuse ends in death. Fatal drug overdose has increased dramatically in the past 30 years; the number of deaths from overdose has risen by 540%. This is in large part because of the increase in the abuse of prescription painkillers.
Many children suffer because someone in their family abuses drugs. Over 6 million American children live in the same household with a parent who abuses drugs. The number of children affected by parental addiction is even higher, when accounting for alcoholism and for households where the child no longer lives with the addicted parent. Children of addicts are more likely to abuse themselves, which is why it’s important to take steps to end the cycle.
Drug addiction is becoming more and more of a multi-generational problem. Since 2002, the rate of Americans aged 50-59 who abused drugs in the past has more than doubled, from 2.7% to 5.8%.
While addiction stats may be startling, it’s important to remember that 91% of the population abstains from illicit drug use – and best way to keep that number high starts with you.