50% of Americans Know Someone with Substance Abuse Problems

Degrees of Substance Separation: Half of Americans know someone with substance abuse problems, reveals study.

Have you ever found out that you’re mutual friends with someone from across the globe? The six degrees of separation theory suggests that wherever we are, we’re each just six social elbow bumps away from any other human being.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 19.7 million adults in the US struggled with a substance use disorder in 2017, which is around one-fifth of the country’s population. Given that we’re only six social introductions away from one another, it’s likely we’re similarly acquainted with connections who have a substance abuse problem. RecoveryFirst.org conducted a survey of 3,000 Americans to find out the link between our social connections and drug abuse.


The survey discovered that half of Americans know someone who has substance abuse issues. Broken down according to the adult population, this is around 127 million people who are connected to one another through degrees of substance abuse separation.
Further scaled down by state, Nevadans are most acquainted with people with substance abuse issues with 75% saying they know someone who has problems. Comparatively, 26% of those in New Jersey said this was the case.

The impact of social isolation over the past year on people’s health cannot be understated – many use drugs as an everyday coping mechanism due to an overwhelming sense of stress or anxiety. In fact, more than a third (37%) said if lockdowns were reinstated this winter, they would consider taking prescription medication to treat their symptoms of anxiety or depression. Nearly half (47%) also say they are concerned that the economic downturn caused by the pandemic will result in increased drug and alcohol use in their community. This likely explains why 48% believe more money should be allocated to substance use treatment and prevention across America.

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Recovery First is located in Hollywood, Florida, which is easily accessible from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. Our small groups means you get more one-on-one support and make stronger connections with the community. Take the next step toward recovery: learn more about our addiction treatment programs near Florida's Atlantic coast or learn about how rehab is affordable for everyone.