8% of U.S. Adults Admit to Substance Abuse

The rate of illicit drug use in the U.S. has stabilized at 9.4% over the past few years. The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals that marijuana remains the most frequently used illicit drug. In addition,  8.2% of U.S. residents over age 12 currently have a current substance dependence or have abused a substance in the past year. These consumers are candidates for addiction treatment.

The report indicates the following percentages of consumers are using psychotherapeutic drugs for non-medical reasons:

  • Pain relievers 1.7%
  • Tranquilizers 0.6%
  • Stimulants 0.5%
  • Sedatives 0.1%

Researchers have also detected an increase in the number of consumers who admit to using heroin in the past year. Officials estimate that 669,000 consumers have used this substance in the past 12 months, the highest level in the past 10 years.

Consumers in the 18-to-25 year-old age group have the highest rate of illicit drug use: 21.5%. The teen rate of drug use has dropped slightly, to 8.8%, while the number for consumers age 26 and older stands at its highest rate in a decade: 7.3%.

Heavy alcohol use is exhibited at the highest rate in consumers who are in the 21–25 year-old age group: 13.1%. This age group has a high rate of binge drinking as well – defined as more than six drinks in a single session. In the past decade, binge drinking among men has dropped from over 50% to about 44.4%. For women, the number has been fluctuating around the 31% level.

Not everyone who suffers from a substance abuse problem will seek addiction treatment services. In fact, AudienceSCAN data finds that 1.6% of U.S. adults expect to seek such services in the coming year. This audience is heavily male, 61%, and younger.  66% are under age 35. Addiction treatment seekers are more likely than average to be renters in urban areas. These consumers over-index in their enjoyment of playing pool and billiards and in reading comic books and graphic novels.

Marketers should make Internet banner ads a part of their media mix in order to reach this audience. At least 61% of these folks have taken action in the last 30 days because of an Internet banner ad.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.