How Common is Addiction?

Millions of people in the United States suffer from addiction. It is a widespread disorder that can happen to anyone. Addiction does not target any specific group, gender, race or religion.

How Common is Addiction?

Addiction is very common. People can become addicted to many different drugs or substances. The most common addictive substance is tobacco. Nearly all who are addicted to tobacco have a dependence on nicotine and will have withdrawal symptoms if they slow or stop their intake.

The prevalence of tobacco addiction is about 13% among 18-year-olds and about 18% among 50-year-olds.

Alcohol addiction or Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is the next most common addiction. AUD directly harms the drinker, places them at risk and places others at risk.

Alcohol problems exist on a spectrum of severity from occasional binge drinking to full-blown addiction. While binge drinking does not indicate addiction, it increases a person’s risk of developing one or dying due to impaired judgement.

Outside of tobacco and alcohol addictions, there are many other drugs that are highly addictive. These drugs range from prescription pills like Adderall, OxyContin, Xanax and Vicotin to illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine and crystal meth.

Prescription drugs are easier to obtain and misuse because many of them have been classified as schedule II drugs by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This means that while doctors may use them in treatment, their abuse can lead to addiction.

Prescription drug abuse involves increasing dosage or changing how you take the drug in question. Prescription drug abuse can have potentially lethal consequences.

Illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin arguably present the most challenges, because people can become dependent or addicted to them very quickly. These drugs are most often bought through street dealers who may mislabel products or amounts—deceptions that can prove deadly to the unsuspecting.

What is Prevalence?

When talking about addiction, the term “prevalence” refers to how many people have a problem at any given time.

The prevalence of daily alcohol use is 3% in 18-year-olds and 11% in 50-year-olds. AUD has a prevalence of 6.2 % of adults 18 years and older and 2.5 % for adolescents ages 12-17. Daily drunkenness, on the other hand, has a prevalence of about 1% in all adult age groups.

The previous 12-month prevalence for alcohol use and dependence is about 10%. This means that 1 out of 10 people have had an alcohol use problem within the past year.

The prevalence of illicit drug addiction depends on the drug. Daily marijuana use has a prevalence of 2-5% among adults (but is slightly higher in teens). The use and abuse of other illicit drugs is somewhat less than that at about 2%.

Examples of commonly abused drugs are listed below.



Non-Addictive Drugs

Crystal Meth








Kent S. Hoffman, DO

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been practicing medicine for nearly 30 years. He is board-certified to practice addiction medicine and family medicine. Dr. Hoffman gets to know his patients on a first-name basis to provide compassionate and professional health care.

Last modified: 09/18/2022