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Top 10 Most Common Addictions In The U.S

Top 10 Most Common Addictions In The U.S

From alcohol and opioids to cigarettes and painkillers, addiction affects millions of lives in the U.S. According to the CDC, in 2018 the percentage of persons age 12 and over who used drugs in a month was 11.7% in the US. The percentage of this age group that used a psychotherapeutic drug nonmedically in a month was 2%. Although these percentages don’t seem high, this is out of the entire U.S population, need I remind you is 333,754,810 people. 

Below are the 10 most common addictions in the U.S based on last year’s findings. 


With 79.5% of U.S citizens twelve years and over trying an alcoholic beverage, alcohol takes the number one spot for the most common addictions in the U.S. Roughly 300 million people throughout the world have an alcohol use disorder. Social and occasional drinking is very common which is why it is hard to spot. Alcohol’s legal status opens up the flood gates for the risk of addiction and overdose without even realizing or batting an eye. 

Alcohol addiction comes with many harmful side effects, short-term and long. Aside from life-threatening issues like liver disease and alcohol overdose, drunk driving also takes the lives of thousands each year.   


In 2020, 59.2% of U.S citizens age twelve and older have tried nicotine at some point in their lives. Approximately 50 million individuals in the U.S have some sort of nicotine/tobacco addiction, whether to cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, or chewing tobacco. 

Like alcohol, because this addiction is legal and easy to obtain it doesn’t seem as serious or harmful. However, nicotine and tobacco use claims more lives than any other addictive substance on our list. There are roughly 480,000 deaths a year caused by nicotine.

Although the harmful and deadly side effects take time to develop, nicotine addiction is extremely hard to quit, despite knowing the dangers. 


Contrary to popular belief, marijuana can become an addictive substance. Last year 17.9% of Americans twelve and over had tried marijuana. With the legalization spreading state to state, the use is becoming more socially acceptable and easier to access. Thus, increasing the addictive potential and number of individuals abusing this substance.

Furthermore, there are also synthetic variations of marijuana called spice or K2. These are human-made chemicals that are then sprayed on dried plant materials and smoked. Spice has been linked to both acute and long-term side effects and is not meant for human consumption. Like marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids are addictive and can lead to many health risks. 


The percentage of U.S citizens that have tried cocaine starting at age twelve is 14.2%. Although the overall use of cocaine has declined, it still remains the second most popular illicit recreational drug in the country. This has helped the addiction rate to decrease as well, however, crack cocaine, cheaper and more intense, takes the lives of thousands each year. 


In 2020 9.3% of Americans tried inhalants twelve years and older. Inhalants include volatile solvents, aerosols, gases, and nitrites. The chemicals in inhalants are capable of lingering in the body and brain after stopping use. Thus, making the recovery process more difficult. 


In 2020, 3.3% of the U.S population age twelve and over tried painkillers. These include Codeine, Vicodin, and Oxycontin, which are all prescribed to treat pain. Although prescribed by a doctor, painkillers are commonly misused and become addictive. According to the NIH, in 2019 nearly 50,000 people in the U.S died from an opioid-involved overdose. 

An addiction to painkillers can develop from a harmless level of use which is why many people who have a problem don’t realize it until they try to stop. 


Last year 2.3% of the U.S had tried heroin and between the years of 1999 and 2019, nearly 140,000 died from a heroin overdose. Heroin withdrawal symptoms are some of the most extreme, which is why recovery is so difficult. Heroin is highly addictive and treatment requires a combination of therapies, as well as medication-assisted treatment to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. 

Furthermore, Injectables, like heroin, create a growing concern in regard to users contracting and spreading HIV and AIDs by sharing needles and syringes. 


Last year 1.8% of Americans age twelve and older tried stimulants. These include Adderall, Ritalin, and illicit substances like Meth. These drugs are highly addictive, and like heroin, withdrawal symptoms make treatment and recovery very difficult. Stimulant abuse is extremely common and users can quickly build a tolerance, resulting in increased use and risk of addiction and overdose. 


In 2020, 1.7% of the U.S population age twelve and over tried Benzodiazepines. These include drugs such as Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin. These medications are prescribed as mood-regulating drugs to help with anxiety conditions and stress. Benzodiazepines have a powerful impact on the brain’s chemical makeup, which can result in withdrawal being deadly without medical assistance.  


Finishing off the most common addictions in the U.S are barbiturates. In 2020 0.2% of Americans twelve and over had tried Barbituates before. These are sleep-inducing drugs to help treat tension and sleep disorders. Frequent users of Barbituates begin to build a tolerance and increase the amount taken. Thus, resulting in addiction, most commonly seen in drugs like Lunesta and Ambien. 

Get Help 

If you are struggling with an addiction or having a hard time stopping the use of any of these substances, contact the Harm Reduction Center in South Florida. At the Harm Reduction Center, we use different treatment options, including medication-assisted treatment, to help with withdrawal symptoms cravings, and the recovery process. 

Our board-certified medical professionals tailor each treatment plan according to the client’s needs. Our mission is to empower and support your recovery and help smoothly transition our clients back into the “real world.” If you are ready to break free of your addiction, contact us today.