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.

  • The statistics are amusing, but for a person like myself they don’t have much interest or meaning. Especially when you consider that the US Government can make them say anything that they want them to say, depending on their agenda.

    What’s more interesting and IMPORTANT to me is the fact that people get involved with illicit drugs by making a decision. And when they make another decision and decide that they are ready to quit the drugs, especially tobacco in its many forms, it’s my job to show them how to accomplish that goal with as little trauma, stress, and withdrawal as possible.

    It is my humble opinion, based on 30 years of experience, that 90% of the smoking addiction is mental, and only 10% is physical. It’s also my opinion based on those same 30 years, that since the mind is causing 90% of this addiction, the human mind can cure that same 90%. For this I’ve found hypnotherapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming to be most effective.

  • Tony

    Taken from Substance Use and Dependence Following Initiation of Alcohol or Illicit Drug Use and slightly reworded:

    Among persons who initiated use marijuana 13 to 24 months prior to the interview, 42.4 percent had not used marijuana during the past year, 51.8 percent had used marijuana in the past year but were not dependent on marijuana, and 5.8 percent were both using and dependent on marijuana in the past year.

    Persons who initiated use of cocaine were examined in two subgroups: initiates of crack and initiates of cocaine other than crack. Approximately 9.2 percent of persons who initiated use of crack initiates were dependent on any type of cocaine in the past year, whereas 3.7 percent of persons who initiated use of cocaine other than crack were dependent on any type of cocaine in the past year (Figure 2).

    Nuff said.

  • Thanks for the first comment left on our blog and excuse me for the answer delay, PC problems.

    Making a general speech, I support in part those who say that marijuana gives psychological dependence and so I admit is possible if the subject makes it possible.

    Let me explain better: there are people brought to dependency and people, with a conscious use of marijuana, they are even able to draw benefits without the need to abuse it. The statistic is fun, that’s true. Where is the psychoactive medicine dependence? And alcohol? Alcohol dependence is less dangerous than marijuana dependence?

    I don’t think this. Nobody thinks this, I suppose. Moreover, I believe that should be given more experience and less statistics, if we want to do a service for people, we must be together with people.
    excuse me still for delay.

    Valerio Massimo

  • Pingback: No Extradition for Marc Emery, Michelle Rainey, or Greg Williams « Hempyreumenglish’s Weblog()

  • More people are addicted to prescription drugs then the surveys indicate. They will surpass marijuana use soon enough. The “war on drugs” should start with big pharma.

  • What about tobacco. By far more addictive than any of the drugs listed…..

  • hereafterforever

    Dependence is measured equally in terms of the user’s physical and mental symptoms during the use of the substance and after the substance use is stopped. In comparison to the physical changes and permanent damage to synapses from alcohol, opiate, and stimulant use, marijuana pales in comparison. I believe that this study fails to account for both the concurrent and aftermath conditions that the user experiences for any of the drugs listed.

  • They can’t take into account the aftermath, or the concurrent conditions. It only counts the number of users and the published numbers look low to me.

  • v

    This article says absolutely nothing because it does not describe, at all, what the criterion for “drug dependence” is.

    In fact, the use of the phrase “in other words” in the following quote implies that anyone who has tried drugs in the last 13-24 months is drug dependent:

    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).

  • Statistical precision notwithstanding, I think the interesting point is that a significant number of people are claiming to be marijuana-dependent. That goes against decades of common understanding, but it’s time to admit that, for people who have addictive propensities, pot can be addictive. The commonality of withdrawal symptoms that abstinent potheads describe also argues in favor of the existence of marijuana dependency among a minority of users.

  • Pot certainly can be addictive. I have seen first hand, on many occasions, people becoming very aggressive when they withdraw from its use. This is not the occasional user. This is the type of user that smokes the drug like people smoke regular cigarrettes – all day every day. Believe me, some simply cannot function without it.

  • It’s amazing to pay a visit this website and reading the views of all friends regarding this article, while I am also eager of getting experience.

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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