September 4, 2018  |  Purdue University Global  |  Updated February 28, 2022

More than 40 million Americans ages 12 and older had a substance use disorder in 2020, according to National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) results released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The 2020 figure is more than double that of the NSDUH 2019 survey results, which indicated about 20 million Americans had a substance use disorder in 2019, but the dramatic increase is misleading.

For the 2020 survey, SAMHSA states that it altered its data collection methods partly due to COVID-19 pandemic, including making changes to the questionnaire and updating its diagnostic criteria to align with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), in lieu of the DSM-IV.

2020 NSDUH Survey Highlights

In 2020, 58.7% (162.5 million) survey respondents 12 and older reported having used alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs within the previous month, according to the SAMHSA survey. This figure represents, in part:

  • Tobacco use: 20.7% (57.3 million) used tobacco products, e-cigarettes, or nicotine vaping devices
    • 63.1% of respondents ages 12 to 17 who used nicotine products vaped but did not use other tobacco products
  • Alcohol use: 22.2% (61.6 million) binged alcohol
    • 31.4% (10.5 million) who binged alcohol were ages 18 to 25, the highest percentage reported
    • 22.9% (50 million) were adults over 26 years old
  • Illicit drug use: 21.4% (59.3 million) respondents reported using illicit drugs during the past year
    • 17.9% (49.6 million) used marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug, with adults ages 18 to 25 having the highest reported usage at 34.5% (11.6 million)
    • 3.7% (10.3 million) misused central nervous system stimulants during the previous year
    • 3.4% (9.5 million) misused heroin or other prescription pain relievers
    • 2.6% (7.1 million) used hallucinogens

Here is a list of resources if you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder. This guide also includes addiction recovery resources for professionals who treat substance use disorders.

Addiction Recovery Resources for People Living with Substance Use Disorders

Addiction Recovery Resources for Family Members and Others With Substance Use Disorders

Addiction Recovery Resources for Addiction Professionals

Get Help Today

If you or someone you care about has a substance use disorder,  reach out for help. You don't have to go through this alone. There are caring people and organizations that can provide guidance and support.

Purdue University Global is proud to provide quality education and resources for addiction professionals to drive positive change in the lives of others.

Additional Information

Filed in: Psychology Addictions 


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