What Drug Use Does to 1 in 6 Americans  

Mar 23, 2024

Woman with coffee outdoors in early morning.

It’s National Drug and Alcohol Facts Awareness Week.  

Here’s an astonishing fact: 48 million Americans aged 12 and older meet the definition of mild to severe substance use disorder (SUD).  

That’s one in six of us. As young as 12 years old.  

Meeting even two of these symptoms—used to diagnose SUD—constitutes a “mild” disorder. Any two of these can have an alarming effect on a person’s physical, mental or financial stability.    

  • Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you’re meant to  
  • Wanting to cut down or stop using the substance but not managing to  
  • Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance  
  • Cravings and urges to use the substance  
  • Not managing to do what you should at work, home, or school because of substance use  
  • Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships  
  • Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use  
  • Using substances again and again, even when it puts you in danger  
  • Continuing to use, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance  
  • Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance)  
  • Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance  

None of us knows who may develop SUD, or who may progress from mild into a moderate or severe disorder that impairs the ability to live a productive, safe, healthy life. That’s why it’s so important to recognize this prevalent disorder and know what steps to take.  

Here’s a hopeful fact: LifeWorks NW holistic approach to treating substance use disorder helps people get their life back. Contact us to learn about our services.  

Learn more  

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Infographic on drug, alcohol and tobacco use (pdf)