The Hard Facts of Addiction

Although many of us have heard about addiction, we are oblivious to the fact that it is all around us.  Odds are we all know someone with an addiction problem.  What is addiction?   In a  nutshell, addiction is the loss of control over a behavior or consumption of a substance – despite the negative consequences.  This mean you can’t stop even if you want to.  I know this first hand…read My Story.  When you attempt to stop, you fail.  For many, their addiction becomes more important than their basic human needs.  It is progressive and if not treated or managed can lead to death.

Addiction comes in many forms.  The most common and recognized are alcohol, illicit drugs (illegal and prescription), tobacco, and gambling.  I listed some fast facts about each of them below.


According to  National Council of Problem Gamblers, an advocate for programs and services geared towards helping problem gamblers.

  • approximately 85% of adults  have gambled at least once in their lifetime
  • 60% of adults have gambled once in the past year
  • 1% (2 million) of adults in the United States are have a problem with pathological gambler (also known as compulsive gambler).
  • 2-3 % (4-6 million) of adults are problems gamblers meaning the have a significant problem gambling
  • 4%–8% of kids between 12 and 17 years of age meet criteria for a gambling problem
  • 10%–15%  of kids between 12 and 17 years of age are at risk of developing a problem

The National Gambling Impact Study Report is the largest and most recent Federal gambling study conducted on the general population in the United States.  It is a two-year study that spanned from 1997-1999.  Through that study, we learned that

  • almost 16 million adults and adolescents had gambling problems
  • 15 million people were at-risk gamblers

Gambling Court states that NOTE: “40 percent of all gambling addicts began gambling before the age of 17.”  Visit their site to learn more about Gambling Court.

Although all addictions can have devastating effects on the addict and their loved ones, problem gamblers have the highest rate of suicide.”About 80 percent seriously consider suicide; 13 percent to 20 percent attempt suicide or succeed in killing themselves, a rate higher than that for major depression,” said Jane E. Brody in her New York Times article “Compulsive Gambling: Overlooked Addiction” on May 4, 1999.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has been conducting  the  National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) since  1971.  Among other information, NSDUH,  collects data on alcohol, illicit drug, and tobacco use yearly.

It is important to note that the study uses the term substance use disorder and not addiction.  This is in line with the American Psychiatric Association‘s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, 4th edition (DSM-IV), which instead uses the terms substance abuse and substance dependence and identifies them as types of substance use disorder.

Results from the survey collected in 2014 indicated the following:


139.7 million people age 12 and over were past month drinkers, of which 8.7 million were underage (12-20 years old).  Including –

  • 60.9 million adults reported binge alcohol use
  • 16.3 million adults reported heavy alcohol use
  • 5.3 million underage were binge drinking
  • 1.3 million underage heavy alcohol.

17 million people reported having a alcohol use disorder


27 million people age 12 and over used a illicit drug use during the past 30 days (10.2% of Americans).  Yes, 1 in 10. In the study, illicit drugs included marijuana, non medical pain killers, tranquilizers, stimulants, cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, heroin, and sedatives.

7.1 million had a drug use disorder


2.6 million had both alcohol use disorder and drug use disorder


  • 66.9 million age 12 and up has used tobacco in the past 30 days
    • 55.2 million of these smoked cigarettes
      • 32.5 million smoked cigarettes on a daily basis
        • 59% of all cigarette smokers smoked at least one cigarette a day.

More than 50 million people in the United States abuse or are addicted to gambling, alcohol, illicit drugs, and tobacco.  Millions more are at risk every year.  This matters, a lot, because addiction not only ruins the lives of those suffering it.  The ripple effect of this madness also affect the people that surround them.

Sadly I was one of those who fell into the traps of addiction.  So these numbers, without a doubt, feel personal to me.  But… I know that the story doesn’t end here because I am going to try my best to right my wrongs and make sure my addiction doesn’t ruin me.  If you haven’t visited the other pages on my blog, I invite you to read About  my journey.

Hopefully you will stick around to see me through hard time in my life.





Data Sources

Brody, Jane E. (1999, May 4). Compulsive Gambling: Overlooked Addiction. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2015). Behavioral health trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 15-4927, NSDUH Series H-50). Retrieved from

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment for Persons With Co-Occurring Disorders. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 42.) 2 Definitions, Terms, and Classification Systems for Co-Occurring Disorders. Available from

Gambling Court. (n.d.) Statistics.Retrieved from

National Council on Problem Gambling. (n.d.). FAQ. Retrieved from

National Council on Problem Gambling. (2007). Youth Gambling. Retrieved from

National Gambling Impact Study Commission. (1999). National Gambling Impact Study Commission Final Report. Retrieved from

One comment

  1. […] What if I want to go to a casino?  I won’t have a problem like you or the rest of the millions of gambling addicts in the U.S.  Read more on gambling statistics here. […]


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