10 Surprising Facts About Substance Abuse

1. The LGBT population, on average, experiences substance abuse disorders more frequently. (Silvestre, Beatty, & Friedman, 2013) This could be due to the fact that many in the LGBT community have un-supportive families, and are the victims of hate crimes, bullying, and social isolation.

2. As of 2012, it is estimated that 9% of the US population, or 22.5 million people, have a substance abuse disorder. (Straussner, 2012)

3. Despite being a prevalent issue in the US, and many social workers experiencing substance abuse issues in their family growing up, many social workers choose to not work with this population due to fear. Additionally, many social work schools do not even require students to be knowledgeable about substance abuse. (Straussner, 2012)

4. Veterans experience substance abuse disorders at higher rates, as well. This could be attributed to the fact that some veterans may feel the need to self medicate. (C. Studgeon, personal communication, 2016)

5. Illegal drug use costs the United States approximately 181 billion dollars annually. (Get the Facts on Substance Abuse, 2011)

6. In 2010, 60% of drug overdoses that resulted in death were due to prescription pain killers. (Get the Facts on Substance Abuse, 2011) This is probably contradictory to public knowledge on substance abuse overdoses. The general public is very aware of the dangers of harder drugs such as heroin, but it is lesser known that prescription pills can be just as dangerous if not used properly.

7. After alcohol, the most commonly abused drug is marijuana. (Get the Facts on Substance Abuse, 2011)

8. As of 2006, only 3 percent of licensed social workers list addictions as their specialty. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008)

9. Currently, the US government is putting millions of dollars towards research to identify regions of the brain that could be stimulated in order to prevent addiction, or lessen the likelihood of an addiction to develop. (Straussner, 2012)

10. Younger people are more likely to abuse “designer” drugs. Designer drugs usually refers to inhalants, ecstasy, or anabolic steroids. On the other hand, older adults are more likely to abuse prescription drugs. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008)


DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a
challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.
Get the Facts on Substance Abuse. (2011). Retrieved March 14, 2016, from http://drugabuse.com/library/get-the-facts-on-substance-abuse/
Silvestre, A., Beatty, R., & Friedman, M. (2013). Substance Use Disorder in the
Context of LGBT Health: A Social Work Perspective. Social Work in Public
Health, 28, 366-376.
Straussner, S. (2012). Clinical Treatment of Substance Abusers: Past, Present and
Future. Clinical Social Work Journal Clin Soc Work J, 40, 127-133.

Studgeon, Connie. Personal communication. March 10, 2016.

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