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Survey depicts a day in a drug user's life, and it's pretty normal

  • A survey by Take 5 Media Group for Addictions.com found most habitual drug users lead pretty normal lives, in general.
  • Some notable exceptions include a higher rate of unemployment, high cost of addiction and tendency to abuse drugs of choice at work.
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They get about nine hours of sleep per night and prefer eggs for breakfast, and the majority hold jobs.

No, these aren't average Americans. They are daily and habitual illicit drug users.

According to a survey by Take 5 Media Group for Addictions.com, people who reported using illicit drugs on a daily or habitual basis adhere to pretty unremarkable routines in their everyday lives.

"I wanted to dive deep into what the daily life of someone who is addicted to drugs is like," said Logan Freedman, the data scientist who spearheaded the survey for Addictions.com.

To compile the results, Freedman and his team surveyed 1,057 people across all 50 states. The majority of respondents made $59,999 or less per year. About 22 percent of responses came from California and Florida, and about two-thirds of total respondents were male.

Everyone surveyed was trusted to self-report.

The survey grouped respondents into six categories, based on their drugs of choice: Adderall, cocaine, ecstasy, hallucinogens, methamphetamine and opiates.

"As we started collecting the data, we found out that most drug addicts are pretty similar to everyday people," Freedman said.

Most habitual drug users getting seven to 10 hours of sleep per night. Most reported waking up sometime around 8:00 a.m., and getting to work anywhere from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m daily.

A majority of respondents from all categories preferred eggs for breakfast.

There were, of course, a few notable distinctions.

Habitual drug users spend anywhere from $16.94 to $35.06 per day to fuel their habits. At the high end, that breaks down to the price of about two packs of cigarettes per day in New York City or a month's rent in Omaha, Nebraska, or Fresno, California.

Despite racking up those charges, the unemployment rate among habitual drug users is much higher than the 4.1 percent reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Opiate users were the least likely to have jobs, with an employment rate of only 56 percent. At the other end of the spectrum fell cocaine and ecstasy users — 91.14 percent and 91.43 percent, respectively, reported holding jobs.

Most of the employed drug users surveyed reported working in sales or management. Engineering was the most common job reported among ecstasy users.

Perhaps the most surprising finding was the rate at which habitual users use on-the-job.

"That's something general public doesn't think about, I don't think about it. I don't look at my employees and coworkers and think they could be drug addicts, or they could be using drugs at work," Freedman said.

About 60 percent of cocaine users reported using on the job, whereas only 23.38 percent of habitual hallucinogen users reported dosing at work. That was still a high enough number to shock Freedman.

"A lot of the drugs here -- methamphetamine, opiates, ecstasy, cocaine, Adderall -- you can perform reasonably normally," Freedman said. He argued the same was not true for hallucinogens, which include mind-altering substances, like LSD and mushrooms.

"It's the lowest number but its still shocking to me," he added.

Despite a few outliers, Freedman's findings seemed painfully mundane.

"These habits don't seem to fit the stereotypes we typically associate with these drugs," Freedman said.

"Most of these people have jobs, wake up at a normal time and eat breakfast – but they can have a crippling addiction to their drug of choice," he added.

The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed about 28.6 million people 12-years-old or older, or about 10.6 percent of Americans, reported using illicit drugs within 30 days of being surveyed. About 7.4 million people are estimated to have a substance abuse disorder associated with their drug use.

These numbers may be skewed, as they include cannabis use, which is legal in some states.

Addicts comprise a comparatively small percentage of the total population, but their plight is worsening as a result of climbing opioid addiction rates and deaths.

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