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Who is Addicted?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, there are about 23 million Americans who need treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. That’s about seven percent of the population. Put another way, if you know at least 13 people, you probably know someone who needs help with addiction. That person might be you. Who are these 23 million people?

On average, an addict is twice as likely to be a man. Someone addicted to cocaine or heroin is even more likely to be a man. Women, however, are more likely to be addicted to opioid painkillers. Although the majority of addicts are men, there are still about seven or eight million women who need treatment for substance abuse.

Alcohol is by far the most commonly abused substance. We live in a drinking culture where alcohol is everywhere and easy to get. In many situations, drinking is expected. Such frequent contact will inevitably trap some people in addiction. As with the general average, men are about twice as likely to be alcoholics. Alcohol is so common that it’s hard to know who is an alcoholic. Alcoholics, themselves, are often not aware. They might seem to function normally for years, but their families–if they have families–always know.

Like movies and music, drugs target a younger demographic. Most illicit drug users are in the 18 to 25 age range and most people seeking treatment are in the 20 to 29 age range. What’s perhaps surprising is that this number doesn’t fall off very quickly for higher age groups. According to NIDA, in 2008, people aged 25 to 29 accounted for about 15 percent of people seeking treatment and people aged 45 to 49 accounted for about 12 percent. Clearly, the reckless youth have not cornered the market on addiction.

Another interesting trend is that illicit drug use has increased among older people in recent years. In 2008, people aged 50 to 64 accounted for about 12 percent of people seeking treatment for addiction. Since then, percentage of people in this age group who have used illicit has increased steadily.

While it remains true that, statistically, the person you will most likely find in treatment is a twenty-something white male alcoholic, addiction does not recognize age or sex or race. Men and women of all ages battle addiction and get treatment. Gardens Wellness Center provides supportive, individualized care to get you started in recovery. Learn more about treatment today. Call us at 844-828-1050 or email us at