Top 5 Most Common Addictions In the U.S.

Addiction is a complex and progressive disease that causes people to struggle with functioning in their daily lives. According to the National Institute of Health, “10 percent of US adults have drug use disorder at some point in their lives.”[1]

Addiction is a common issue in the United States. But which substances are most commonly abused? Here are the top 5 most common addictions in the United States.

What are the Most Common Addictions in America?

Addiction is a disease that impacts millions of Americans each year. When people think of addiction, they probably imagine someone using hard drugs like crack or heroin. But are they the most common addictions in America? Let’s take a look.

1. Alcohol

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, meaning it slows down brain activity. While many people can drink in moderation as a social activity, some people have a hard time limiting the amount of the substance they ingest.

Alcohol has been called America’s drug of choice for many years. This substance has become a popular pastime in this country, as it can be found at almost every social event. From birthday parties to sports events, alcohol is always around.

According to a study, “85.6 percent of people ages 18 and older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime.”[2]

The easy accessibility of this substance is probably why alcohol is the most common addiction in America. The research found that nearly 15 million people aged 12 or older suffered from alcoholism in 2019.[2]

While drinking is normalized in this country, having an addiction to alcohol is extremely dangerous. The withdrawal symptoms associated with this substance use disorder can lead to seizures and death, making it imperative for people to attend a professional alcohol rehab program to overcome their alcoholism.

2. Nicotine

Nicotine is another substance that has become normalized in our society. This substance is a stimulant drug that speeds up messages between the central nervous system and the body. Nicotine is the active ingredient in many tobacco products, like cigarettes, vapes, and chewing tobacco.

While nicotine addiction may not seem as harmful as heroin addiction, this is simply not true. Long-term nicotine consumption can lead to an array of cancers. A study reports that 10-15% of cigarette smokers die from lung cancer, while a larger majority of them die from other smoking-related causes like heart disease, stroke, or emphysema.[3]

Additionally, many people have a harder time quitting cigarette smoking than quitting hard drugs. According to the CDC, “Fewer than one in ten adult cigarette smokers succeed in quitting each year.”[4]

3. Marijuana

Marijuana is a plant that many people smoke to experience euphoric and sedative effects. In recent years, the attitude about marijuana has changed. While people used to call this substance names like the “devil’s lettuce,” now it is legal in many states for medicinal or recreational use. Because of this attitude change, many individuals are beginning to develop marijuana use disorders.

Marijuana is still federally legal, making it the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States. While many people believe that marijuana is a harmless substance, it is possible to become addicted to the drug.

According to the CDC, “8.2 million people, or about 18% of Americans, used it at least once in 2019. Recent research estimated that approximately 3 in 10 people who use marijuana have marijuana use disorder.”[5]

4. Prescription Opioids

Prescription opioids are another one of the top 5 most common addictions in the United States. Some examples of prescription opioids include oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and Vicodin. These medications are prescribed by doctors to relieve moderate to severe cases of pain.

When someone takes these substances, their body becomes dependent on them over time. Oftentimes, people run out of their prescriptions, experience withdrawal symptoms, and desperately attempt to receive more prescriptions. If they are unsuccessful, this is one of the many ways that an addiction to illicit opioids like heroin begins.

Opioid addiction has become so severe in this country that it is now considered an epidemic. In 2010, opioid overdose deaths were 21,088 per year. In 2020, the death toll rose to a staggering 68,630 per year.[6]

5. Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are depressant drugs that slow down messages traveling in the brain. People may be prescribed these drugs to treat symptoms of anxiety or seizure disorders. While these medications are successful in treating anxiety and seizures, they are also extremely addictive. Unfortunately, the addiction to these drugs can become severe very quickly.

Benzodiazepine use is common in America. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “researchers concluded that 12.5% of adults in the U.S. used benzodiazepines, which extrapolates to about 30.5 million persons.”[7]

Finding Help for Substance Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one suffers from a substance use disorder, it’s time to seek professional help. Struggling with the consequences of addiction can be devastating, especially if you are attempting to cope all on your own. Thankfully, addiction treatment programs can provide you with the support and tools you need to recover.

Contact Addiction Intervention today to get connected with a top-rated drug and alcohol rehab program near you.