Substance Use
United States

Substance Use
Change Location...

Limiting usage of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs is a major public health concern in the United States. Drug poisoning deaths—driven in large part by the opioid crisis—are a top killer of Americans. Alcohol and tobacco use contribute to numerous health problems, including heart disease and cancer. Even when legally obtained, any substance can be dangerous.

Alcohol and Tobacco Use in the United States

Data from the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) tracks alcohol and tobacco usage, broken down by age. Binge drinking means having more than five (for men) or four (for women) drinks on one occasion.

Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States

Mortality data from CDC Wonder shows a rapidly worsening drug overdose crisis throughout the United States. Opioids, a group of drugs that includes prescription painkillers as well as heroin, are at the forefront of the crisis. 

Perceptions of Risk in [state:undefined]

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, asks respondents if they perceive using various substances as a "great risk." The estimated percentages of U.S. adults who answered "yes" are shown below. 

Percent of U.S. adults who perceive the following as a "great risk":

Trying Heroin Once or Twice

Smoking 1+ Cigarette Packs per Day

Binge Drinking 1-2 Times per Week

The chart below shows the percentage estimates for binge drinking risk perception, broken down by age. (Use the time-slider to see values for different two-year periods.)

About the Data

• Binge drinking and smoking rate data is from the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

Mortality data is from CDC Wonder. Drug overdose death data was queried based on the following parameters: Underlying cause of death, ICD-10 codes X40–X44, X60–X64, X85, Y10–Y14. Opioid data was queried from: Underlying cause of death, ICD-10 codes: F11.0, X40-X44, X60-X64, X85, Y10-Y14, and multiple cause of death, codes T40.0-T40.4, T40.6.

• Perceptions of risk data is from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The data is an estimate based on a two-year period.