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Pew Study Reveals Nationwide Concern Over Substance Abuse

Last Updated: September 25, 2023

Drug addiction takes its toll on Americans. While not everyone that uses drugs becomes addicted, the continued misuse of drugs and alcohol can lead to severe consequences, including overdose and death. A recent Pew Research study reveals that Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of substance misuse in their communities.

Drug Addiction Numbers in the U.S.

The statistics on drug addiction in this country reveal some alarming trends. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 24 million Americans need drug or alcohol treatment, but just about 3 million receive access to that care.

SAMHSA reports that marijuana is the most widely abused drug in this country, with more than 6,500 first-time users each day in 2012 and reports of over 5 million daily users. Prescription drug abuse has also reached epidemic levels.

The NIDA reports that 20 percent of the U.S. population ages 12 and older (54 million people) have misused prescription drugs. The highest rates of nonmedical use of prescription drugs are among young adults.

Each day in this country, 60 people die from opioid pain medications. Even more die from illicit drug overdoses such as fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and meth. Even alcohol misuse has serious health and other consequences.

The U.S. Justice Department reports that the total annual cost of drug addiction is nearly $200 billion in terms of medical care, lost work productivity, criminal behavior, and premature death. These are startling figures, and a new study reveals that there is increased concern over substance misuse.

Study Reveals Rising Concern Over Substance Misuse

Pew Research Center released a new survey in May concluding that many Americans now see drug addiction as a major problem in their community. As the nation continues to confront the opioid epidemic, recent statistics show that opioid-related overdose deaths are continuing to rise.

Roughly two-thirds (66 percent) of the 63,600 overdose deaths in 2016 involved opioids, according to figures from the CDC. Preliminary data shows that 2017 figures are going to be even higher than the prior year.

Pew Research reviewed rates of drug overdoses across the nation as well as surveyed U.S. adults between February and March of 2018. Nine out of ten Americans living in rural areas say that drug addiction is either a major or minor problem. In urban and suburban areas, those figures are 87 percent and 86 percent respectively. In urban areas, 50 percent of respondents claimed that drug addiction is a major problem, compared to 46 percent and 35 percent in rural and suburban areas respectively.

Where Are Rates of Fatal Drug Overdoses the Highest?

These communities have good reason to be concerned about drug addiction and substance misuse in their midst. Over recent years, there has been a significant increase in deadly overdoses across urban, rural, and suburban counties according to CDC data.

In 2016, there were 19,172 fatal overdoses in urban counties, an increase of 25 percent from the prior year. Rural counties experienced 8,036 overdose deaths, up 9 percent, and suburban counties saw 36,424 overdose-related deaths, an increase of 22 percent.

There is a substantial drug misuse and overdose issue in U.S. suburban counties. Not only did this demographic have the highest number of drug overdose deaths in 2016, but it also had the highest rate of age-adjusted overdose deaths.

This is a metric that is designed to control for the average age and population differences across the three different types of communities. In 2016, the age-adjusted overdose death rate in suburban counties was 21.1 per 100,000 people. This is compared to 18.7 and 18.5 per 100,000 people for rural and urban counties respectively.

Pew Research data also revealed that there have been significant increases in drug overdose deaths for white, black, and Hispanic residents, but these figures have especially grown among the black population. Between 2015 and 2016, the overdose death rate for black Americans soared 40 percent, from 12.2 to 17.1 deaths per 100,000 people. These rates are even higher among black men in urban counties, where the rate rose 50 percent to 34.0 per 100,000.

Even with the growth rate among black residents, whites have the highest overall overdose death rate at 25.3 per 100,000 followed by 17.1 and 9.5 for blacks and Hispanics respectively.

How Do Florida Drug Trends Fit Into This Picture?

The Florida Alcohol and Drug Association released its latest update, which tracks substance abuse issues and trends across and within the state of Florida.

The Florida Medical Examiners Commission 2017 Interim Report reveals that drug-related deaths in Florida for the first six months of the year were up 11 percent. Deaths involving opioids were up 20 percent, and deaths considered to be “caused” by opioids were up 27 percent.

The report confirms that the opioid epidemic continues to worsen in Florida and is partially due to the spread of non-pharmaceutical illicit drugs such as fentanyl. Fentanyl and heroin-related deaths escalated across Florida in 2016 and data for the first half of 2017 shows that this trend is continuing.

There is also concern about the potential for a second drug epidemic related to cocaine since medical examiner reports have shown that cocaine-related deaths in Florida have continued to increase since 2013. Other drugs of significant concern across Florida include alcohol and methamphetamines.

Where to Turn for Help With a Substance Use Disorder

If you or any of your loved ones have a substance use disorder, this is not something that can be dealt with in isolation. Addiction is a progressive disease that affects the mind and body, requiring specialized treatment to break free and begin recovery.

The Orlando Recovery Center is a Florida addiction treatment center that specializes in the customized care of substance use disorders and related issues. We will be by your side from detox through aftercare and offer a comprehensive set of recovery services that are designed to give you the best chance for success.

Contact us now to for more information about our programs and your admissions options.

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When you call our team, you will speak to a Recovery Advocate who will answer any questions and perform a pre-assessment to determine your eligibility for treatment. If eligible, we will create a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. If The Recovery Village is not the right fit for you or your loved one, we will help refer you to a facility that is. All calls are 100% free and confidential.

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