SAMHSA News Release: Report Reveals Millions of Young Adults use Illicit Substances every Day

youguyscantdothisDate: 6/10/2014 12:30 AM
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office
Telephone: 240-276-2130

According to SAMHSA’s data, on an average day, 3.2 million young adults used marijuana, 57,304 used heroin, 51,319 used cocaine, 46,179 used hallucinogens, and 17,868 used inhalants.  Drinking was also prevalent among this age group.  In the past year, 27 million young adults consumed alcohol.  Even more concerning, this number includes 9 million underage drinkers aged 18 to 20.  Underage drinkers drank on average 5.7 days per month and consumed an average of 4.8 drinks per day on the days they drank.

SAMHSA’s data also reveals that, every day, thousands of young adults use illicit substances for the first time.  This includes 2,470 first uses of marijuana, 1,754 first time non-medical uses of prescription pain relievers, 1,561 first uses of hallucinogens, 1,200 first uses of cocaine, 850 first uses of stimulants, 566 first uses of inhalants, 258 first uses of heroin, and 174 first uses of methamphetamines.

“This data shows how prevalent substance use is in the lives of many young adults,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde.  Far too many young adults allow substance use to jeopardize their health, well-being and futures.  We must all do more to ensure that effective prevention and treatment programs are available to help young adults make the right choices.”

The report also uses data from SAMHSA’s Treatment Episode Data Set to reveal that there were 403,756 admissions of young adults in the past year to substance use treatment programs.

Data drawn from SAMHSA’s Drug Abuse Warning Network reveals that in 2011 there were 488,937 hospital emergency department visits by young adults that involved illicit drug use, alcohol in combination with other substances, or the misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals.

There are many resources that young adults and others with substance use problems can turn to for help.  SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service that people – including adolescents and their family members – can contact when facing substance abuse and mental health issues.  This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.  Callers can also order free publications and other information in print on substance abuse and mental health issues.  Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator at

The report, A Day in the Life of Young Adults: Substance Use Facts, contains many other facts about the scope and nature of adolescent substance abuse, treatment, and treatment admissions patterns and is available at:  It was drawn from analyses of SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Treatment Episode Data Set, and National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, and Drug Abuse Warning Network.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.