Recent Drug Statistics on Dependence

Drugs and Clinical Trials CategoryIf you’re interested in drug treatment or social policy, here’s a helpful resource and recent statistics regarding drug dependence. It is a report that tells us how many people become dependent, and are still dependent, two years after their first exposure to a particular drug.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) surveyed people who had used a drug for the first time between 13 to 24 months prior, and calls them “year-before-last-initiates.” In other words, it tells us how many of these initiates are currently dependent on the drug (and, of course, this includes alcohol). Unfortunately, it does not include smoking. The government continues to treat smoking as though it does not involve a dangerous drug by separating smoking statistics from other drug statistics. That’s just wrong. At least it recognizes alcohol as a drug.

MarijuanaAnyway, here are their statistics, from highest rates of dependence to lowest.

  • Heroin — 13.4%
  • Crack — 9.2%
  • Marijuana — 5.8%
  • Stimulants — 4.7%
  • Cocaine (not including Crack) — 3.7%
  • Alcohol — 3.2%
  • Pain Relievers — 3.1%
  • Sedatives — 2.4%
  • Hallucinogens — 1.9%
  • Tranquilizers — 1.2%
  • Inhalants — 0.9%

As I mentioned in my last article, there is a problem with this kind of statistical view. It says nothing about how populations differ. In some geographic areas and social class strata, the statistics will be quite different. Treating the U.S. population as if it is a statistical monolith is like trying to tango with a 2×4. But, at least, it gives us a clue about the virulence of various drugs. I was surprised not to see methamphetamine broken out as they did with crack versus other types of cocaine. Well, they say Eskimos have more words for snow, I guess this report does, too.

Just this morning, I was wondering what the world would be like if we had never created the drug war in the U.S. How much power would organized crime have if drugs were controlled differently? How much drug addiction would there be? What if the government were not controlled to well by well-heeled interests, and drug treatment were freely available? How much less torture and disruption of other countries would there be if there was less drug money for CIA operatives to throw around?

Did you know that the origins of the drug war were almost entirely political? Alas, now, our military-corporate-justice complex feeds on the status quo, destroying many lives and many families. But that’s for another post.


Substance Use and Dependence Following Initiation of Alcohol or Illicit Drug Use, The National Survey on Drug Use and Health Report. Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. March 27, 2008.


You could spend many joyous hours leafing through the statistical resources here. There’s a link to the latest data, and to various data sources:

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Statistics.

Robert A. Yourell, MA

Robert A. Yourell, MA, has extensive experience in the mental health and social services dating back to 1975. His training includes Ericksonian communication and hypnosis with John Grinder, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing with Francine Shapiro, PhD, Body Integrative Psychotherapy with Jack Rosenberg, PhD, and solution-focused psychotherapy. He provides free audio experiences on his site that include bilateral sound and Shimmering.
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