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Understanding Drug Use and Substance Use Disorder: Key Statistics 

In this blog post, we’ll delve into some essential statistics concerning drug use and substance use disorder in SAMHSA’s statistic report for the year 2021. These statistics shed light on the prevalence of illicit drug use, the impact on various age groups, and the alarming treatment gap that exists for those in need of help.

  1. Illicit Drug Use:
    • In 2021, a significant 21.9% of the U.S. population aged 12 or older, totaling 61.2 million people, reported using illicit drugs in the past year.
    • The most commonly used illicit drug was marijuana, with a staggering 52.5 million users.
  2. Young Adults and Illicit Drug Use:
    • Disturbingly, nearly 2 in 5 young adults aged 18 to 25 used illicit drugs in the past year, reflecting the prevalence of this issue among this age group.
    • Within this demographic, 1 in 3 young adults used marijuana in the past year, highlighting its popularity among young individuals.
  3. Opioid Misuse:
    • The opioid crisis remained a significant concern, with 9.2 million people aged 12 and older misusing opioids in 2021.
  4. Substance Use Disorder (SUD):
    • A substantial portion of the population, 16.5% or 46.3 million people aged 12 or older, met the DSM-5 criteria for having a substance use disorder in the past year.
    • Among those with SUD, 29.5 million people were classified as having an alcohol use disorder, while 24 million were classified as having a drug use disorder.
  5. Age and SUD:
    • The data showed that substance use disorder rates were highest among young adults aged 18 to 25, underscoring the importance of targeting prevention and treatment efforts towards this group.
  6. Treatment Gap:
    • One of the most concerning statistics was that in 2021, a staggering 94% of individuals aged 12 or older with a substance use disorder did not receive any treatment.
    • Alarmingly, the primary reason for not seeking treatment was the belief among those individuals that they did not need it.

These statistics highlight the widespread issue of drug use and substance use disorder in the United States. While efforts have been made to address these problems, the treatment gap remains a significant challenge. Raising awareness, reducing stigma, and increasing access to treatment services are essential steps in addressing this pressing public health issue. It is crucial to continue working toward a society where those in need can receive the help and support required to overcome substance use disorders.

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