Substance Use Disorders
Substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically and functionally significant impairment, such as health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
Excessive alcohol use can increase a person’s risk of developing serious health problems in addition to those issues associated with intoxication behaviors and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use causes 88,000 deaths a year.
Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that in 2014, slightly more than half (52.7%) of Americans ages 12 and up reported being current drinkers of alcohol. Most people drink alcohol in moderation. However, of those 176.6 million alcohol users, an estimated 17 million have an AUD.
Many Americans begin drinking at an early age. In 2012, about 24% of eighth graders and 64% of twelfth graders used alcohol in the past year.
Tobacco Use Disorder
According to the CDC, more than 480,000 deaths each year are caused by cigarette smoking. Tobacco use and smoking do damage to nearly every organ in the human body, often leading to lung cancer, respiratory disorders, heart disease, stroke, and other illnesses.
In 2014, an estimated 66.9 million Americans aged 12 or older were current users of a tobacco product (25.2%). Young adults aged 18 to 25 had the highest rate of current use of a tobacco product (35%), followed by adults aged 26 or older (25.8%), and by youths aged 12 to 17 (7%).
In 2014, the prevalence of current use of a tobacco product was 37.8% for American Indians or Alaska Natives, 27.6% for whites, 26.6% for blacks, 30.6% for Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, 18.8% for Hispanics, and 10.2% for Asians.
Cannabis Use Disorder
Marijuana is the most-used drug after alcohol and tobacco in the United States. According to SAMHSA data:
In 2014, about 22.2 million people ages 12 and up reported using marijuana during the past month.
Also in 2014, there were 2.6 million people in that age range who had used marijuana for the first time within the past 12 months. People between the ages of 12 and 49 report first using the drug at an average age of 18.5.
In the past year, 4.2 million people ages 12 and up met criteria for a substance use disorder based on marijuana use.
Stimulant Use Disorder
Stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. They include a wide range of drugs that have historically been used to treat conditions, such as obesity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and, occasionally, depression. Like other prescription medications, stimulants can be diverted for illegal use. The most commonly abused stimulants are amphetamines, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Stimulants can be synthetic (such as amphetamines) or can be plant-derived (such as cocaine). They are usually taken orally, snorted, or intravenously.
In 2014, an estimated 913,000 people ages 12 and older had a stimulant use disorder because of cocaine use, and an estimated 476,000 people had a stimulant use disorder as a result of using other stimulants besides methamphetamines. In 2014, almost 569,000 people in the United States ages 12 and up reported using methamphetamines in the past month.
Hallucinogen Use Disorder
Hallucinogens can be chemically synthesized (as with lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD) or may occur naturally (as with psilocybin mushrooms, peyote). These drugs can produce visual and auditory hallucinations, feelings of detachment from one’s environment and oneself, and distortions in time and perception.
In 2014, approximately 246,000 Americans had a hallucinogen use disorder. Symptoms of hallucinogen use disorder include craving for hallucinogens, failure to control use when attempted, continued use despite interference with major obligations or social functioning, use of larger amounts over time, use in risky situations like driving, development of tolerance, and spending a great deal of time to obtain and use hallucinogens.
Opioid Use Disorder
Opioids reduce the perception of pain but can also produce drowsiness, mental confusion, euphoria, nausea, constipation, and, depending upon the amount of drug taken, can depress respiration. Illegal opioid drugs, such as heroin and legally available pain relievers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone can cause serious health effects in those who misuse them. Some people experience a euphoric response to opioid medications, and it is common that people misusing opioids try to intensify their experience by snorting or injecting them. These methods increase their risk for serious medical complications, including overdose. Other users have switched from prescription opiates to heroin as a result of availability and lower price. Because of variable purity and other chemicals and drugs mixed with heroin on the black market, this also increases risk of overdose. Overdoses with opioid pharmaceuticals led to almost 17,000 deaths in 2011. Since 1999, opiate overdose deaths have increased 265% among men and 400% among women.
In 2014, an estimated 1.9 million people had an opioid use disorder related to prescription pain relievers and an estimated 586,000 had an opioid use disorder related to heroin use.