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A Decade in Drugs, Analyzing Drug Addiction Statistics from this Decade

A Decade in Drugs, Analyzing Drug Addiction Statistics from this Decade

At the turn of the last decade, from 2002 to 2010, drug users spent $100 billion annually on illegal drugs.

The top drugs of the last decade were mainly cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamines,1 but what about this decade’s drug use trends? The 2010s saw the frightening growth of the opioid epidemic, increased rates of alcoholism, and growth of prescription drug abuse. Here’s how the year panned out in illegal drug use trends and what the 2020s may look like when it comes to addiction.

Drug Addiction Statistics and Trends for 2010 – 2015

  During the early 2010s, drugs including marijuana and cocaine were some of the most commonly abused drugs. A 2013 study found that over 24 million Americans used illegal drugs within the past 30 days of the survey period, with marijuana and cocaine as the most commonly used illegal drugs. 2 But, this early period in the decade also saw a growth in one drug that would soon dominate the nation – opioids. Heroin abuse began to climb around this time.

At the same time, drinking began growing in the United States. One study found that the drinking habits for 30% of Americans qualified for an alcohol use disorder diagnosis.3 The eruption of wine mom culture coupled with the prevalence of college binge drinking are some factors that have continued the growing rates of alcohol consumption nationwide.

Drug Addiction Trends and Statistics from 2015-2019

  The opioid epidemic began its footing earlier in the decade, but the epidemic was officially declared a “public health emergency” in 2017 when President Trump urged that the rising rates of opioid use have reached national health emergency proportions.4

The CDC has identified three waves of the opioid epidemic in relation to overdose deaths. The first is the opioid epidemic of the early 2000s where prescription opioid overdose deaths began to rise. In 2010, heroin overdose deaths became a problem that has continued to skyrocket this decade. Finally, the introduction of synthetic opioids including fentanyl resulted in an even more frightening wave of opioid overdose deaths, reaching record highs in 2017.5

Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with over 1,000 ER visits occurring daily due to opioid misuse and overdose.6

The Growth of Illegal Drug Use and Vaping this Decade

  This decade has also seen an uptick of synthetic drugs and natural compound concoctions with dangers that are simply not understood yet. Drugs such as kratom have gained traction in recent months, but these drugs are more dangerous than many think.

Vaping has become a hot topic of the last year at the tail end of the decade, and vaping deaths are showing the danger of this new type of drug use. The long-term effects of vaping will not be fully understood until further studies are performed.

The Decline in Alcohol Consumption

  Trends for better health have caused one positive change in the tail end of the decade, alcohol consumption rates worldwide declined by 1.6% in 2018 compared to 2017. 7 This shift has caused many companies to look into alternatives, such as increasing soft drink or tea offerings. The trends show that alcohol consumption may increase more in the new decade, but this dip in consumption is a promising trend for worldwide health and sobriety.

Greater Understanding and Acceptance of Recovery

  Tabloids of previous decades gushed over celebrity overdoses and recovery rock bottoms, but with advancing social media channels, celebrities have been able to control their narratives and recovery stories. They are able to use their platforms to advocate for addiction and mental health recovery, such as celebrities including The Situation, Brandon Novak, Ariana Grande, and Brad Pitt, just to name a few.

As celebrities continue to push their truths about recovery from addiction, mental health challenges, and other difficulties, the stigmas surrounding these challenges shrink. The less ashamed people are about their struggles, the more willing they will be to seek and accept help for recovery.

The 2010s have been marked by frightening drug and alcohol trends, with overdoses making headlines, the opioid epidemic growing deadlier, vaping causing health problems, and new synthetic drugs increasing dangers for all users. But now is the chance to start a new decade on the right foot. At Banyan Treatment Centers, we offer the help you need to find sobriety. Start the new decade with health, happiness, and sobriety. Call 888-280-4763 to get the help you need to get sober.

Start the new decade with health, happiness, and sobriety. Call 888-280-4763 to get the help you need to get sober.


  1. Rand - What America's Users Spend on Illegal Drugs
  2. SAMHSA - Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings
  4. CMS - Ongoing emergencies & disasters
  5. CDC - Understanding the Epidemic
  6. NCBI - Opioid Overdose
  7. Fox Business - Global alcohol consumption declines 1.6% from year prior, analysis says
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
A Decade in Drugs, Analyzing Drug Addiction Statistics from this Decade
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