4 Factors Influencing Substance Use Trends

With nearly 18 million Americans struggling with at least one addiction, the need for substance use assistance is considerable. Any ethical method of increasing your drug rehab marketing reach can be a valuable tool in getting your message to those who need you. One way of magnifying your marketing power is identifying the factors influencing drug use and using those trends to target your addiction treatment digital ad campaigns more precisely.

When you know what’s triggering drug use, you can better predict when and where your message will have the greatest impact. And that could translate to saving lives. Here are four factors affecting drug use you can use in your drug rehab marketing to strategically target those in need.

Factor #1: Pursuing Higher Education

You read that correctly, higher education. The sad truth is that Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 are most likely to use addictive drugs. But this correlation goes deeper than just age. Recent research noted that Americans enrolled in college full-time are twice as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than those not enrolled in higher education. As a result, college students are one of the largest groups of drug users in the U.S.

For many, college is a time of exploration and experimentation especially with drugs and alcohol. Collegiate drug use is also heavily influenced by stress, anxiety and peer pressure. Put these together and sprinkle in new-found freedom, and you have a dangerous recipe for creating people with substance use disorder (SUD).

To make a real difference in this demographic, contact colleges and universities in your service area. Find out if they have their own media sources like a newspaper, app or TV broadcast and if you’re able to promote your services there. College students are savvy, so your campaign should be honest and genuine.

Social media is also essential to this group, but not in the way you might think. In 2021, College students use Instagram more than any other social site, followed by YouTube and then Facebook. Encourage your clients to tag you in their posts if they feel comfortable. Better yet, identify a student ambassador who’s benefited from your services. If they’re willing, telling their story through these social channels could be a decisive, life-changing marketing move.

Factor #2: Employment Status

Employment status is a significant factor influencing drug use. Employed citizens are generally happier, more fulfilled and less likely to turn to substances to fill a void in their life. On the other hand, the unemployed are twice as likely to struggle with addiction. About 17% of unemployed adults battle SUD.

Considering 10.1 million Americans are currently collecting an unemployment check, there could be a significant uptick in substance abuse among this group in the coming months. Therapists around the country are already reporting an increase in patients who have become concerned about their alcohol use during the quarantine period. Nearly half of those who committed to “Dry January” in 2021 weren’t able to make it through the month without drinking.

Unemployed Americans are in a genuinely perilous position in 2021, and they desperately need you. Target this audience by focusing your digital ad campaign on online job websites like Monster and Indeed. LinkedIn and Facebook Jobs are also worthwhile platforms to promote your services, both through organic content and paid ads.

Factor #3: Military Service

This one is tough. One out of every ten active or former service members struggles with SUD. Veterans are at high risk of developing a substance abuse problem because of combat-related cognitive conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research has shown more than 20% of veterans with PTSD are also addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Getting veterans the behavioral health services they need is our only hope for reversing this trend. Connect with veterans online by advertising on local veterans groups’ websites, targeting Facebook ads to active and retired military, or even working with the Veterans Affairs hospital in your area to cross-promote your services on their social channels.

Factor #4: Residing in a Rural Area

Drug overdose death rates in rural areas have exceeded those in large cities since 2006. Poverty, a known drug use factor that is especially prevalent in rural areas, is one of the main reasons.

Physicians who can treat SUDs are in short supply in rural areas. Studies have shown that more than half (60%) of rural counties don’t have a physician with DEA clearance to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid addiction treatment.

If you haven’t made any effort to connect with this community, now is the time. Consider sponsored content or paid advertisements on local media outlets’ websites and relevant apps. Make sure you’ve optimized your website and other digital assets for local search to ensure you’re reaching clients in areas with a smaller population and greater need.


Your ability to cultivate a lasting life-change for people with SUDs directly correlates to your ability to find them. Despite the prevalence of substance use today, only 10% of users receive treatment for their addictions. With the right drug rehab marketing strategy, you can change that. Dreamscape Marketing specializes in creating digital marketing strategies for the behavioral health field. Call us today at 888.307.7304 to talk about the tools you need the tools to maximize your impact.