National Government Survey Releases Data on Illicit Drug Use

September 16, 2010

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration released results from The National Survey on Drug Use and Health for 2010.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration released results from The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) for 2010.

The study features statistics based on collected data from 2008 to 2009. According to the results, marijuana use, prescription drug abuse, and ecstasy use have increased. The NSDUH demonstrated that the “overall rate of current illicit drug use in the United States rose from 8.0 percent of the population ages 12 and older in 2008 to 8.7 percent in 2009.” The rise was due in great part to “increases in marijuana use.”

The study was relased at the kick off of the 21st annual National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.

Nonmedical use of prescription drugs rose from 2.5% of the population in 2008 to 2.8% in 2009. The estimated number of past-month ecstasy users rose from 555,000 in 2008 to 760,000 in 2009. The number of methamphetamine users rose from 314,000 to 502,000 as well.

Youth use of illicit drugs increased from 2009 compared to 2008, but remained below the 2002 levels. Youths fall between age 12 to 17. Marijuana use by youths increased to 7.3% in 2009, but remained below the 8.2% statistic for 2002. This group also experienced a drop in the level of perceived risk of harm associated with smoking marijuana once or twice a week.

For young adults ages 18-25, past-month illicit drug use increased from 19.5% in 2008 to 21.2% in 2009; which was also driven in part by increases in marijuana use.

“These results are a wake-up call to the nation,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D, in a press release. “Our strategies of the past appear to have stalled out with generation ‘next.’ Parents and caregivers, teachers, coaches, faith and community leaders, must find credible new ways to communicate with our youth about the dangers of substance abuse.”

“Today’s findings are disappointing, but not surprising, because eroding attitudes and perceptions of harm about drug use over the past two years have served as warning signs for exactly what we see today.” said Director of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, in a press release. “Fortunately, this Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy, with its focus on prevention, treatment, smart law enforcement, and support for those in recovery, highlights the right tools to reduce drug use and its consequences. But our efforts must be reinforced and supported by the messages kids get from their parents. Past month marijuana use was much less prevalent among youths who perceived strong parental disapproval for trying marijuana or hashish once or twice than among those who did not -- 4.8 percent versus 31.3 percent, respectively.”

Tobacco use among those aged 12 and older has decreased, according to the survey. A historic low has been reached in current cigarette use among this population at 23.3%. Cocaine use has also decreased by 30% from 2006.

While the study found that 23.5 million Americans aged 12 or older need specialized treatment for a substance abuse problem, only 2.6 million actually receive it.

The NSDUH surveys approximately 67,500 people throughout the country, aged 12 and up. For the complete survey click here