Other Drugs

CDC looks at data on use and overdoses involving a variety of drugs, including marijuana. There are also an increasing number of studies available on using drugs in combination with each other, referred to as polysubstance use.

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In 2016, Around 4 Million Americans Had a Marijuana Use Disorder in the Past Year

  • Dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant
  • Can also be called weed, pot, dope, or cannabis
  • Contains mind-altering (or psychoactive) compounds

Marijuana, which can also be called weed, pot, dope, or cannabis, is the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. It contains mind-altering (i.e., psychoactive) compounds like tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, as well as other active compounds like cannabidiol, or CBD, that are not mind-altering.

Like any other drug, marijuana’s effects on a person depend on a number of factors, including the person’s previous experience with the drug or other drugs, biology (i.e., a person’s genetics), gender, how the drug is taken, and how potent it is.

In 2016, around 24 million Americans aged 12 or older, or 9% percent of the population, were current users of marijuana.1 Marijuana use disorder occurs when recurrent use of marijuana causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems; persistent or increasing use; and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home. In 2016, around 4 million people, or 1.5% percent of the population, had had a marijuana use disorder in the past year. The 2016 percentage of the population aged 12 or older with a marijuana use disorder was lower than the percentages in most years between 2002 and 2010 and was similar to the percentages in 2011 to 2015.2

For more data and information, visit Marijuana.

Polysubstance Overdose Deaths Are Increasing

Polysubstance (Using more than one drug)
  • Exposure to more than one drug, with or without the person’s knowledge
  • Opioid-involved overdose often occurs in combination with exposure to other opioids and/or other non-opioid substances

Polysubstance drug use occurs with exposure to more than one drug, with or without the person’s knowledge. This growing issue also means that an opioid-involved overdose often occurs in combination with exposure to other opioids and/or other non-opioid substances. Some examples of polysubstance exposures found in combination in overdose deaths include illegally made fentanyls (IMFs) and heroin; IMF and cocaine; IMF and methamphetamine; and prescription or illicit opioids and benzodiazepines.3

From 2010-2016, there were significant increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids that also involved prescription opioids, heroin, and other illicit or prescription drugs. Among synthetic opioid–involved overdose deaths in 2016, almost 80% involved another drug or alcohol, such as: another opioid, heroin, cocaine, prescription opioids, benzodiazepines, alcohol, psychostimulants, and antidepressants.3 In 2020, approximately 40% of deaths involving IMFs also involved stimulants. 4

The overdose epidemic has grown increasingly complex by co-involvement of prescription and illicit drugs. For example, synthetic opioids (primarily IMFs) were involved in 23.7% of deaths involving prescription opioids, 37.4% involving heroin, and 40.3% involving cocaine in 2016.3

Recent data indicate that the involvement of opioids in stimulant-involved deaths is increasing. Nearly three-quarters (72.7%) of cocaine-involved overdose deaths also involved an opioid in 2017.5 Previous data have indicated that synthetic opioids, in particular, appear to be driving increases in cocaine-involved overdose deaths.3 Approximately one-third of psychostimulant-involved deaths also involved synthetic opioids in 2019.6

A tranquilizer not approved for use in humans called xylazine is increasingly being found in the US illicit drug supply and linked to overdose deaths.7 Xylazine can be life threatening and is especially dangerous when combined with opioids like fentanyl.

The presence of xylazine in drugs tested in labs increased in every region of the United States from 2020-2021, with the largest increase in the South.8 Studies from specific areas found similar increases. One study from 10 US cities showed xylazine was involved in less than 1% of drug overdose deaths in 2015 and in nearly 7% in 2020.9 In samples from eight syringe service programs in Maryland tested between 2021 and 2022, xylazine was found in almost 80% of drug samples that contained opioids.10 In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, xylazine was found in 31% of heroin and/or fentanyl overdose deaths in 2019.11 In a recent study from CDC’s State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS), among 20 states and Washington D.C. the monthly percentage of deaths involving illegally made fentanyl (IMF) with xylazine detected increased from 3% in January 2019 to 11% in June 2022.12

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018 Annual Surveillance Report of Drug-Related Risks and Outcomes — United States. Surveillance Special Report 2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Published August 31, 2018.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2017). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Healthexternal icon(HHS Publication No. SMA 17-5044, NSDUH Series H-52). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/
  3. Jones CM, Einstein EB, Compton WM. Changes in Synthetic Opioid Involvement in Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 2010-2016. JAMA. 2018;319(17):1819-1821.
  4. O’Donnell J, Tanz LJ, Gladden RM, Davis NL, Bitting J. Trends in and Characteristics of Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Illicitly Manufactured Fentanyls — United States, 2019–2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2021;70:1740-1746. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7050e3external icon.
  5. Kariisa M, Scholl L, Wilson N, Seth P, Hoots B. Drug Overdose Deaths involving Cocaine and Psychostimulants with Abuse Potential – United States, 2003-2017. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub. 3 May 2019.
  6. Kariisa M, Seth P, Scholl L, Wilson N, Davis N. Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Cocaine and Psychostimulants with Abuse Potential among Racial and Ethnic Groups – United States, 2004-2019. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2021; 227. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2021.109001
  7. Kariisa M, Patel P, Smith H, Bitting J. Notes from the field: xylazine detection and involvement in drug overdose deaths—United States, 2019. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2021;70(37):1300.
  8. Drug Enforcement Administration. The growing threat of xylazine and its mixture with illicit drugs. 2022. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2022-12/The%20Growing%20Threat%20of%20Xylazine%20and%20its%20Mixture%20with%20Illicit%20Drugs.pdf
  9. Friedman J, Montero F, Bourgois P, et al. Xylazine spreads across the US: A growing component of the increasingly synthetic and polysubstance overdose crisis. Drug and alcohol dependence. 2022;233:109380.
  10. Russell E, Sisco E, Thomson A, et al. Rapid Analysis of Drugs: A Pilot Surveillance System To Detect Changes in the Illicit Drug Supply To Guide Timely Harm Reduction Responses – Eight Syringe Services Programs, Maryland, November 2021-August 2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2023;72(17):458-462. Published 2023 Apr 28. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7217a2
  11. Korn WR, Stone MD, Haviland KL, Toohey JM, Stickle DF. High prevalence of xylazine among fentanyl screen-positive urines from hospitalized patients, Philadelphia, 2021. Clinica Chimica Acta. 2021;521:151-154.
  12. Kariisa M, O’Donnell J, Kumar S, Mattson CL, Goldberger BA. Illicitly Manufactured Fentanyl–Involved Overdose Deaths with Detected Xylazine — United States, January 2019–June 2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2023;72:721–727. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7226a4
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