Statistics On Addiction

Americans who suffer from addiction are more neglected than individuals with any other condition where medical treatment options are currently available.

  • 31.7% (80.4 million), while not addicted, engage in use of addictive substances in ways that threaten health and safety (risky users).
  • More than 20% of deaths in the United States are attributed tobacco, alcohol and to other drug use.
  • Substance use and addiction are the largest preventable and most costly public health and medical problems in the US.

In 2010, the US spent:

  • $107.0 Billion to treat heart disease (affecting 27.0 million Americans)
  • $86.6 Billion to treat cancer (affecting 19.4 million Americans)
  • $43.8 Billion to treat diabetes (affecting 25.8million Americans)
  • $28.0 Billion to treat addiction (affecting 40.3million Americans)

The vast majority of federal dollars spent pay for the consequences of addiction and a much smaller amount goes to prevention and treatment.


  • 77.2 % Hypertension
  • 72.9% Diabetes
  • 71.2% Major Depression
  • 10.9% Addiction (excluding nicotine)


  • Addiction is a complex disease with behavioral characteristics
  •  40 million Americans, ages 12 and older, have an addiction involving nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. This is a disease affecting more Americans than heart conditions, diabetes or cancer.
  • Another 80 million people engage in risky use of addictive substances in ways that threaten public health and safety, but do not meet the clinical criteria for this disease
  • The earlier substance use starts, the greater the risk of addiction


  • 75% of all high school students have used addictive substances, including cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana or cocaine; 1 in 5 of them meet the clinical criteria for addiction
  • Almost half (46%) of all high school students currently use addictive substances
  • 12% of all high school students and 1 in 3 current substance users meet the clinical criteria for addiction
  • Addiction is a developmental disease: more than 90% of people with addiction began smoking, drinking or using other drugs before age 18; more than 96% began using these substances before the age of 21
  • 1 in 4 Americans who began using any addictive substance before age 18 is addicted, compared to 1 in 25 Americans who started using at age 21 or older
  • 46% of children under age 18 live in a household where someone age 18 or older is smoking, drinking excessively, misusing prescription drugs or using illegal drugs


  • Addiction can be prevented and treated using a wide range of evidence-based screening, intervention, treatment and disease management tools and practices
  • Screening and brief interventions are appropriate for risky substance users, whereas medications and therapies are appropriate for those with addiction
  • 7 in 10 people with the chronic diseases of high blood pressure, major depression and diabetes receive treatment, but only about 1 in 10 people who need treatment for addiction, involving alcohol or drugs other than nicotine, receive any form of care. Of those who do receive treatment, most do not receive anything that approximates evidence-based care
  • There are no clearly delineated, consistent and regulated national standards that stipulate who may provide addiction treatment in the U.S.; standards vary by state and by payer
  • Most medical professionals who should be providing treatment are not sufficiently trained to diagnose or treat addiction. Most of those providing addiction treatment are not medical professionals and are not equipped  with the knowledge, skills or credentials necessary to provide the full range of evidence-based services
  • 44% of all referrals to publicly funded addiction treatment come from the justice system while less than 6% come from health care providers


  • Addiction and risky substance use are the largest preventable and most costly health problems facing the U.S. today, responsible for more than 20% of deaths in the U.S.
  • Addiction and risky substance use cause or contribute to more than 70 other conditions requiring medical care, including cancer, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS, pregnancy complications, cirrhosis, ulcers and trauma, and account for one-third of all hospital in-patient costs
  • Addiction and risky substance use drive and contribute to a wide range of costly social consequences, including crime, accidents, suicide, child neglect and abuse, family dysfunction, unintended pregnancies and lost productivity
  • Total costs to federal, state and local governments of addiction and risky substance use are at least $468 billion per year– almost $1,500 for every person in America
  • Of every dollar state and federal governments spend on addiction and risky use, only 2 cents goes to prevention and treatment while 96 cents pays for the consequences of our failure to prevent and treat this disease
  • In 2010, only $28 billion (1%) of total health care costs was spent on addiction treatment-related services involving alcohol or drugs other than nicotine. This is less than the amount spent on treating diabetes ($44 billion), cancer ($87 billion) or heart conditions ($107 billion), each of which affects far fewer people in the U.S. than addiction
  • Immediate costs per year of teen substance use include an estimated $68 billion associated with underage drinking and $14 billion in substance-related juvenile justice costs
  • Underage drinkers and adult drinkers who meet clinical criteria for addiction consume between 37.5% and 48.8% of the value of all alcohol sold in the United States

All information on this page is credited to The National Center on Addiction / Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia).