Many people don’t realize how prevalent drug and alcohol abuse is in America. If there is little or no substance abuse in someone’s social circle or family, it might be hard for him or her to understand how often teens and adults do use substances — both legal and illegal — and how quickly addiction can be a problem.
For Christians especially, unconscious blinders can be a problem. Drug and alcohol struggles aren’t always verbalized in church circles, and when they are, fellow congregants can rush to judgment even when they don’t mean to be harsh. Judgment or misunderstanding leads to isolation, which means those struggling with substance abuse disorders or addictions become less likely to discuss the matter with people at church.
By understanding the numbers with regard to drug and alcohol use in America, though, Christians can begin to see just how wide the issues stretch. Addiction, like other chronic illnesses, doesn’t respect boundaries such as social, economic or religious lines. Anyone — from the long-term deacon to the pastor himself — can struggle with chemical dependency. When Christians understand this truth, they are able to admit their own addictions or help each other through recovery.
Alcohol Use By the Numbers
The National Survey of Drug Use and Health is conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse each year. It illustrates trends in the prevalence of substances in the nation over time, including alcohol.
According to the 2015 NSDUH, 82 percent of adults over the age of 18 had used alcohol within their lifetimes. Approximately 75 percent of Americans used alcohol within the year prior to the survey and 58 percent within the previous month. Adults weren’t the only ones using alcohol, though; 22 percent of kids age 12 through 17 said they had tried alcohol at least once in the previous year.
These numbers speak for themselves. With over 80 percent of the adult population using alcohol, there’s definitely a crossover with the percentage of people who consider themselves Christian. Certainly, all 80 percent weren’t necessarily abusing alcohol or addicted, but it’s likely that a portion of them were.
Illicit Drug Use Percentages
Many people might not be surprised by the numbers regarding alcohol. Plenty of people enjoy a beer with pizza or a glass of wine with conversation — though it’s important to note that control and awareness are critical to keep occasional sipping from becoming substance abuse. What might be surprising, however, is the prevalence of illicit drug use in the nation.
For all participants — including those age 12 and older — close to 18 percent said they had used illicit drugs in the past year. Almost half had tried illegal drugs in some fashion within their lifetimes. For adults aged 18 and up, the number climbs to 57.5 percent using within their lifetimes and 36 percent having used illicit drugs the past year.
As of a 2015 Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans reported that they identified with a Christian religion. That means a minimum 25 percent crossover in individuals who identify as Christian and individuals who have used illegal drugs before.
Prescription Drug Use Statistics
While many people use prescription drugs as part of a medical regimen, the numbers presented in this section correlate to individuals using prescription drugs outside of medical care — which is illegal as well as a common road to addiction. The NSDUH documents these numbers by pain relievers, sedatives and stimulants.
- Approximately 8.5 percent of adults used pain relievers outside of medical care in the year prior to the survey.
- Around 1 percent of adults abused sedatives in the year prior to the survey.
- A bit over 7 percent of adults abused stimulants in the 12 months before the survey was taken.
Seeking Help with Drug or Alcohol Addiction
Experimenting when you were younger or enjoying a drink occasionally with friends isn’t the same thing as addiction. If you are unable to stop drinking or you drink outside of traditional occasions, then you might have an alcohol abuse problem. This is especially true if you are going to lengths to hide your drinking from friends and family.
Any use of illegal substances can be a risk — you’re risking your career, relationships, standing in the community or church and your freedom each time you use illegal drugs. If you can’t stop using drugs or you are taking risks to get drugs, then those are signs that you need help to overcome your addiction.
At The Christian Treatment Center, we offer faith-based, clinically proven addiction treatment to help you step away from drugs and find the path to sobriety. We believe that coupling experienced counselors with your own spiritual growth strengthens you and helps ensure a longer, more stable recovery from drugs or alcohol. Call us today at (844) 402-3605 for more information.