How Many People Use Drugs? (2024)

Discover trends in illicit drug use in the U.S., detailing how many people reported using drugs from 2021 to 2022.

Research Team


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Number of People Who Used Illicit Drugs by Time Period (2021-2022)

Understanding the Scope of How Many People Do Drugs

In 2022, about 143 million Americans said they had used illicit drugs at some time in their lives, up from 139.7 million in 2021. This increase suggests that more people are being exposed to drugs and that attitudes toward drug use might be changing. Lifetime usage statistics give us an overall idea of how many people have tried or regularly use drugs.

Drug Use Over the Past Year

Taking a closer look at recent trends, the number of people who used drugs in the last year has increased. It rose from nearly 62 million in 2021 to over 70 million in 2022. This increase is significant because it shows the current pattern of drug use and helps public health officials understand the urgency of the situation. The rise indicates that more people are trying drugs and may be using them more regularly.

Perhaps the most alarming statistic is the rise in the number of people using drugs on a monthly basis. In 2021, around 40.6 million reported using drugs in the past month, while in 2022, this number increased to over 46.6 million. Monthly use statistics are critical as they often indicate regular usage, which can lead to addiction and more severe health complications.

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Factors Influencing the Increase

Several factors may contribute to the rise in drug use:

  • Mental Health: Increases in anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can lead people to self-medicate with illicit drugs.
  • Availability: The availability of certain drugs, including synthetic opioids and methamphetamines, has increased in many areas.
  • Societal Changes: Changing laws around drugs, particularly marijuana, may influence attitudes and perceptions about drug use in general.

Implications for Society

The growing numbers of how many people do drugs pose significant challenges for communities, healthcare systems, and policymakers. Increased drug use can lead to higher rates of addiction, overdose deaths, and broader social and economic repercussions. It is crucial for community leaders and health professionals to continue efforts in education, prevention, and treatment programs to address these issues.


It's important to know how many people use drugs and how often they use them to deal with the public health effects of drug use. As things change, keeping an eye on the situation and adapting strategies will be crucial to lessen the negative effects of this growing problem.

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