60% of Americans over the age of 12 used alcohol or drugs in 2022

A survey conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services revealed that citizens continue to face serious mental health problems.

Sixty percent of Americans aged 12 and older used alcohol or drugs in 2022. That is the result revealed by a survey conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In it, a total of 169 million people (59.8%) belonging to that age group reported having used tobacco products, vaping nicotine, drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs a month before participating in the "National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2022."

The percentage of those who claimed to have taken drugs in the year prior to the survey is a bit lower. Twenty-five percent stated that they had used some type of narcotic within the 12 months before being contacted to participate in the survey. Of these more than 70 million respondents, the majority stated that they tended to consume marijuana, a substance that 22% of people in that age group (61.9 million) claimed to take. Of this percentage, 17.3% (48.7 million people) stated that they had had problems with the use of narcotics in the last year. That is, one in six people claimed to suffer from disorders after consuming some type of narcotic.

Drugs associated with mental health problems

The survey also revealed that there are still significant mental health problems among American citizens. One in four adults (23.1%) claimed to suffer from some type of mental illness within the year before participating in the survey. This means that 59 million people reported having mental health problems. Of them, 13 million (5.2%) had serious suicidal thoughts, while 3.8 million even prepared a suicide plan. Fortunately, less than 1% attempted to carry out this plan, and the number of people who attempted to take their own lives in 2022 stood at 1.6 million in the United States.

Of particular concern is the age group between 12 and 17 years old. Some 4.8 million adolescents (19.5% of people surveyed in that age group) reported having had a major depressive episode throughout 2022. Of them, 13.4% (3.4 million) had suicidal thoughts; 6.5% (1.7 million) devised a plan to take their own life; and 3.7% (or 953,000 people) attempted suicide in the previous year.

Evaluating mental disorders

Xavier Becerra, HHS secretary, explained the usefulness of the survey, which has been carried out since 1971, to evaluate the mental health of the American population and, thus, be able to apply the necessary resources and support to help people who need it:

To tackle the behavioral health crisis in this nation, we need to fully understand the issues surrounding mental health and substance use, and the impact they have on people and communities. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to meeting people where they are with information, resources, and support. The 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health allows us to follow an evidence-based path forward as we provide support for those struggling with substance use and work to build healthier futures.