Substance abuse in Illinois is not limited to one drug. In fact, it is not even limited to illegal drugs. This problem is a matter of life and death. Every year in Illinois, over 5,500 people die from drug-related causes.

From alcohol to cocaine, learn about the seven most used drugs used in Illinois and how they are affecting the state’s health.

#1: Alcohol

Alcohol is not illegal in Illinois for adults over 21, but it still causes a lot of problems. The annual average prevalence of alcohol use disorder in the state from 2014-2017 was 6.1%. That’s higher than both the regional and national averages.

Here are some more alarming statistics:

  • In 2017, 12% of Illinois high school students said they had binge drank in the last month.
  • From 2014-2017, 652,000 Illinois residents a year suffered from alcohol-use disorder.
  • Nearly 4,000 people die every year in Illinois from accidents involving alcohol.

Luckily, though, rates of alcohol abuse are going down in Illinois.

#2: Heroin

A lot of people in Illinois get help for heroin addictions. In 2011, 35% of admissions to treatment centers were for this powerful opioid.

Heroin is bad for Illinois’s public health. Overdose deaths from heroin have risen for the past two decades. They reached a high of 1,187 in 2017. That’s over half of all opioid overdoses.

#3: Prescription Opioids

Prescription opioid abuse is one of the biggest problems in the US, and Illinois is no exception. Like heroin, prescription opioids are also wreaking havoc on the state’s communities. In 2017, 623 people died from overdoses on drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone.

A lot of people start with a real prescription for these drugs and then get addicted. Even though they don’t want to, they have to find a way to keep getting the drug. Sometimes this is illegal, and the addiction can ruin their lives.

To fight the problem, doctors have started prescribing opioids less and less. Unfortunately, the amount of overdoses is still rising.

#4: Synthetic Opioids

In 2017, synthetic opioids overtook heroin as the deadliest form of opioids. Fentanyl is the main culprit.

Doctors use fentanyl as a painkiller in hospitals. Unfortunately, a lot of drug dealers import it from China and Mexico and sell it on the black market. Since it’s so powerful, only a little bit can kill you. In October 2019, 13 people died in just one Illinois county from Fentanyl overdoses.

#5: Cocaine

The good news is that cocaine use is dropping in Illinois. The bad news is that it’s still an issue for the state, especially around Chicago.

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant usually imported from South America. It’s not just addictive; it causes damage to your body and can lead to strokes and seizures. Also, it’s expensive, so it encourages crime by people who need to satisfy their addiction.

These facts show the Illinois cocaine problem:

  • 6% of Illinois high school students said they’d used cocaine.
  • Cocaine was the third most cited drug for admissions to treatment centers in Illinois.
  • Police have found cocaine laced with fentanyl in Illinois. This is a deadly mix.

#6: Methamphetamine

In the United States, methamphetamine use is on the rise. This trend is even worse in Illinois. From 2007-2012, the amount of meth labs found by police in Illinois doubled. For people in rural areas, methamphetamine often replaces cocaine as a stimulant.

Methamphetamines are dangerous because they’re made by untrained people in unsafe places. These days, federal and local laws have forced labs to become smaller and more mobile. You never know the quality of the product you get.

If all that’s not scary enough, look at these numbers:

  • Illinois police seized 799 meth labs in 2012, up from 394 in 2007. That’s a 103% increase.
  • In 2018, the DEA seized 289.9 kg of methamphetamines in Illinois.
  • In 2018, methamphetamines were involved in 48 deaths just in Cook County, Illinois.

#7: Marijuana

In Illinois, more people check into rehab because of marijuana than any other drug. Here are some statistics:

Marijuana is easy to find in Illinois, so a lot of people begin to use it at a young age. This can cause problems with the law and their health down the line.

Get Treatment for Substance Abuse in Illinois

Illinois needs your help to end its drug problem. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, don’t wait to call your local treatment center. Call today to learn about your options.


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  2. De Mar, C. (2019, September 25). Police Warn Of Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine Making Rounds In Joliet. Retrieved from
  3. Dodge, B. (2019, November 29). One county in Illinois saw 13 fatal overdoses last month, mostly from fentanyl. Retrieved from
  4. Illinois Department of Human Services. (n.d.). Facts about Addiction. Retrieved from
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016, May). What are the long-term effects of cocaine use?. Retrieved from
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, March 29). Illinois Opioid Summary. Retrieved from
  7. State Profile-Illinois. (n.d.). Retrieved from Executive Office of the President of the United States website:
  8. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Behavioral Health Barometer: Illinois, Volume 5: Indicators as measured through the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services. HHS Publication No. SMA-19-Baro-17-IL. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2019. Retrieved from
  9. US Department of Health & Human Services. (2019, May 1). Illinois Adolescent Substance Abuse Facts. Retrieved from

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