Who Is Most at Risk of Drug Abuse?

Teenager smokes by brick wall.

Addiction is an epidemic that is sweeping the country, and has a profound effect on every single demographic in the population. However, it is important to note that there are certain demographics who have been inadvertently affected more than others. While the statistics are often changing, and we see a shifting narrative of many types of demographics, there has been a consistent trend of certain types of people being affected. Here is some information about the demographics of drug abuse and addiction…


As it has been for quite a while, teenagers are by far the demographic that is at the greatest risk of drug addiction. There are currently more teenage drug users than there are addicts among any other age demographic. While this is especially true of illicit substances, such as marijuana and spice, teenagers also abuse alcohol and tobacco at alarming rates. Currently nearly 38% of high school seniors reported using alcohol in the past month. These trends start young, as well, as nearly 10% of 8th graders reported the same thing.

Young adults

As these teenagers become young adults, the situation does not look much better. Nearly 1 quarter of young adults use an illicit drug at least once every month. Uses of what are known as “study drugs”, such as Ritalin and Adderall, continue to rise amongst this demographic, as well. While the drug abuse among young adults might drop off a bit from teenagers, they often climb into more serious drugs. For example, many teenagers who abused prescription opiates will eventually find themselves addicted to stronger drugs, such as heroin, if they go untreated.

Baby Boomers on the rise

Young people aren’t the only people who have seen alarming rates of drug abuse and addiction. The Baby Boomer generation, which has been starting to reach the age of retirement, has also seen their rates of drug abuse continue to climb. Part of this could be due to the fact that these people were coming of age in a time when the counterculture was in full swing, and drug experimentation was more commonplace. Prescription medication abuse has also begun to climb, amongst older people, because of the higher rates of access.

Drug use decreasing amongst black and Asian people

Despite these worrying numbers, there are some demographics that have seen their drug abuse rates decrease. For example, black teenagers have experienced seen a drop in drug and alcohol use. So much so, that black teenagers are the lowest demographic of drug users amongst teenagers, followed by Asian teenagers.