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A Day of Drug Use

An astounding number of young adults use alcohol and illicit drugs every day. In fact, according to NSDUH data, over 4.8 million young adults aged 18 to 25 drank alcohol, and approximately 3.4 million used illicit drugs, on an average day. The data suggests that substance use remains a health problem among this demographic, and the rates continue to grow. With nearly 850,000 drug-related emergency department visits in one year from this demographic alone, there is no wonder it is such a concern. The worst part may be the astonishing rate at which young adults are trying alcohol and drugs for the first time. Even a single use can land these young adults in the emergency room, but for many the consequences are further reaching. The unfortunate truth is these first-time users are likely to become habitual users and addicts. The graphic below explores the rates of first-time substance use for alcohol and illicit and prescription drugs on an average day.  See how it progresses in eight-hour increments for each substance, making the climb to a dangerous daily total.  Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.   Let’s take a look at the data: Of the 3.4 million young adults using illicit drugs, nearly 3.2 million used marijuana. Over 57,000 used heroin, over 51,000 used cocaine, and over 46,000 used hallucinogens on an average day. That means that for every hour in an average day:

  • Over 200,000 drink alcohol
  • 132,475 use marijuana
  • 2,388 use heroin
  • 2,138 use cocaine
  • 1,924 use hallucinogens

If you take an average minute of a day, 3,362 young adults would be drinking, 2,208 using marijuana, 40 using heroin, 36 using cocaine, and 32 using hallucinogens. Break it down even further and you see that on an average second of a day, there are approximately 56 young adults drinking, 37 using marijuana, and nearly one young adult using heroin, cocaine, or hallucinogens. Of those young adults, 339 will end up in the emergency department for using alcohol in combination with other drugs (107 of those are 18-20 years old, meaning they are underage). An additional 422 will visit the emergency department for marijuana usage, 201 for heroin, 179 for cocaine, and 99 for hallucinogens.   So, what does that mean? It’s evident that substance use and abuse is a major health concern among young adults. Nearly five million use alcohol and illicit or prescription drugs on an average day. That’s a whopping 13 percent of the nearly 36 million young adults in the United States. Of those young adults, approximately 18 percent, or 850,000 will end up in the emergency department for drug-related visits. With the usage rates increasing, access to treatment becomes increasingly important for these dangerous and addictive substances. If you or someone you love uses illicit substances, The Ranch PA can help. If you enjoyed this graphic, please share it with friends and family to help raise awareness of substance use among young adults.

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