May 27, 2020

The Fast Facts of Addiction

Every September during the National Recovery Month, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) releases the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). 

The following facts from the NSDUH report and other data sources highlight that behavioral health is essential to health. Prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover from mental and/or substance use disorders. 

  • By 2020, mental and substance use disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide.
  • Among adults aged 18 or older, 18.5 percent of adults had any mental illness in the past year.
  • More than seven million U.S. adults reported having co-occurring disorders. This means that in the past year they have had any mental illness and a substance use disorder. The percentage of adults who had co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorder in the past year was highest among adults aged 18 to 25 (6.0 percent).
  • Among people aged 12 or older, 20.2 million people needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem in the past year, but did not receive treatment at a specialty facility in the past year.

Underage Use:

  • In 2013, adults aged 21 or older who had first used alcohol at age 14 or younger were more likely to be classified with alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year compared to adults who had their first drink at age 21 or older (14.8 percent versus 2.3 percent).
  • An estimated 8.7 million, or 22.7 percent, of underage persons (aged 12 to 20) were current drinkers in 2013, including 5.4 million, or 14.2 percent, binge drinkers and 1.4 million, or 3.7 percent, heavy drinkers.

Treatment Works:

  • According to research that tracks individuals in treatment over extended periods, most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity, and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning.
  • Two-thirds of Americans believe that treatment and support can help people with mental illnesses lead normal lives.
  • In studies of clinical populations, completion of addiction treatment, and participation in peer recovery groups are more predictive of long-term recovery than either activity alone.
  •  Several studies have concluded that helping others improves one’s own prognosis for recovery. 



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