Most Commonly Used Addictive Drugs In The U.S.

Millions of people in the U.S. struggle with drug abuse each year and many will face addiction sooner or later as a result of this abuse. Some addictive drugs are legal, like alcohol, making them easy to obtain and abuse, and some are illicit, like heroin, but may still be easy to obtain and equally addicting.

No matter the route someone takes to addiction, the outcome is the same: addiction takes over the person’s life, halting life progress, disrupting relationships, work and/or school performance and affecting daily life overall.

Understanding which is the most commonly used addictive drugs in the U.S. can help prepare individuals and their loved ones for the type of treatment best suited for each type of addiction, identify addiction and dependence issues and seek a program that will address each person’s individual needs.

Each year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) measures rates of drug use throughout the nation to help equip treatment providers with this knowledge, so they may adjust their programs to help those in need.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by SAMHSA, the most commonly used addictive drugs in the U.S. are:

  • alcohol
  • cocaine
  • hallucinogens
  • heroin
  • inhalants
  • marijuana
  • methamphetamine
  • MDMA
  • prescription opioids
  • sedatives
  • stimulants
  • tobacco
  • tranquilizers


While these are the drugs for which misuse is measured, other commonly abused drugs exist in the U.S. as well. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) also names bath salts and anabolic steroids as common drugs of abuse.