According to the latest statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), problems with substance use and addiction continue to grow in the United States.

The new data, based on responses to SAMHSA’s annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, found that in 2002 nearly 49 million people in the U.S. ages 12 and older – more than one in six – reported a substance use disorder and 25% of people in this age group reported using illicit substances. That’s an increase of approximately 15% from 2021.

“There are currently more than 48 million Americans struggling with substance use disorders, and three out of every four are not getting the treatment they need … We need to close this gap, and we need to make sure that everyone who needs treatment can get it,” said Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Rahul Gupta, in response to the findings.

Key findings in the survey about substance abuse

  • Cannabis remains the number one most commonly used illicit substance in the country.  While still federally illegal, legalization in many states has contributed to the rise in use. The survey found a 16.5 % increase in use from 2021.  
  • Alcohol remains the most used substance, with 137 million people reporting they consumed alcohol in the past month, and 45% reporting binge drinking.
  • More than six million Americans reported struggling with an opioid use disorder in 2022.
  • Ten million Americans reported cocaine use.
  • Approximately, 4.3 million Americans used prescription stimulants in 2022.
  • Approximately, 2.7 million used methamphetamine.
  • In the past year, 1 in 4 Americans received substance use treatment.
  • Seventy-one percent of adults considered themselves to be in recovery or to have recovered from a drug or alcohol problem.

What does the data tell us?

It tells us that many Americans who are using substances or are struggling with a substance use disorder are going to work every day. It also suggests that some of these individuals are likely using on the job and are impaired at work, putting workplace safety at risk for everyone.

We know that workplace drug and alcohol testing policies and programs serve as a powerful deterrent and can go far in encouraging employees who need it, to get help.

So as you look forward to 2024, consider your workplace safety program and how drug and alcohol testing could enhance it. If you have questions about developing drug and alcohol policies for your business or getting your employees the support they need for substance use issues, the team at TSS is here to help. Contact our offices at or (877) 225-1431.