Addiction: 17 Most Abused Drugs in America

Nov 17, 2016 0 Comments in addiction, drug use by
Addiction: 17 Most Abused Drugs in America

Alcohol reigns king as the most abused drug in America. Twice as many people report abuse of alcohol than the second-ranked substance, tobacco. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration conducts a National Survey on Drug Use and Mental Health each year. They survey children ages 12-17, and adults 18 and older. The most recent study published in 2015 ranks the 17 most abused drugs in America in the past month.

Substance Abuse: Easier to Get, Easier to Use

The largest influencing factor for the top five contenders is their availability. With each of these substances offered for legal purchase in many places, there is a greater chance for abuse than those lower on the list. The lower ones are usually purchased through drug dealers.

Alcohol: Substance Abuse That Is Everywhere

You can purchase alcohol in nearly every grocery store and restaurant. Advertisements for booze are common on television and billboards across America. Drinking is one of the most commonly accepted social activities. Many people meet up for drinks and socializing, and workers head out to the bar at the end of the day.

While wine goes well with dinner parties; beer is great for kicking back in the afternoon. Alcohol is all around us. It’s almost as though society encourages us to drink, and we usually comply. For alcoholics, these seemingly simple pleasures are taken to horrible extremes. With the way alcohol has filled our culture, it’s easy to understand how it’s the most abused drug by millions in America.

Addiction: Top 17 drugs chart, SAMHSA data

Tobacco: No Longer Fashionable, Still Ranks 2nd

Tobacco ranks second likely due to its being as widely available as alcohol. Although measures to control advertisements have been in effect as early as the 1970’s, they still hold a prime place in gas stations and stores nationwide. States are beginning to raise the smoking age to 21 to curb tobacco consumption, with California being the most recent. Their prevalence in America is still widespread, and they are abused by three times more people than the next drug on the list.

Marijuana: Substance Abuse on the Rise

Third-ranked marijuana is becoming more available as the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana has been adopted by many states. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Washington DC have legalized recreational marijuana. 21 more states have legislation allowing the use of medical marijuana. Billboards are no longer reserved for alcohol alone. Advertisements for marijuana clinics began recently popping up on various roadsides in legal states.

This November, Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will vote for recreational legalization. Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota have the option to legalize medical use. In many places users no longer need to go through a dealer, leading to a wider possibility for abuse. The potential for marijuana abuse will continue to rise as it becomes legal in more areas.

Psychotherapeutics: Big Name for Little Pills

In this study, psychotherapeutics includes pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives. Another study by SAMHSA shows that approximately 44.5% of the American population, or 119 million people, were prescribed some form of psychotherapeutics in 2015. These substances can be legally prescribed by trusted doctors. For this reason, many assume they are safe to take illegally. With cases of prescription substance abuse on the rise, people are finally starting to question the safety.

Legal Use Leading to Substance Abuse

When opioid prescriptions became more regulated, heroin use (16th) soared. The number of heroin users tripled since 2003. Heroin use may continue to rise as a cheaper, more available alternative to harder-to-get prescription opioids. This trend is alarming and raising awareness is a must.

Cocaine: Making the Night Last

Although often considered a “luxury drug,” cocaine’s popularity as a party drug helps it hold its fifth place rank. The United States is the world’s largest consumer of cocaine according to the CIA World Factbook. Though drug dealers now become a necessity, this doesn’t keep users from finding it. Using cocaine helps partiers to drink for longer periods of time making it extremely popular on college campuses and in clubs across the U.S.

The Outside Shots In Substance Abuse

As we go further down the list, the drugs become harder to get and so we see less reported abuse. Hallucinogens, at 9th, are still used by just over a million people but methamphetamine, at 10th, doesn’t reach such high numbers. Their lack of mainstream availability keeps them from reaching numbers as high as the other drugs on this list. While some of the drugs on the list are more difficult to come by, the abuse of each continues to rise.

Data Source

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