I found some information just recently published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMHSA, which is a division within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This information is from the latest National Survey on Drug use and Health for 2008. It is a pretty exhaustive study but enlightening nevertheless. This is not the place to go into the details of the full report but, I thought you might be interested in the Highlights which are presented below. If you would prefer to view the entire report follow the underlined link.
This report presents the first information from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The survey is the primary source of information on the use of illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco in the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the United States aged 12 years old or older. The survey interviews approximately 67,500 persons each year. Unless otherwise noted, all comparisons in this report described using terms such as “increased,” “decreased,” or “more than” are statistically significant at the .05 level.
Illicit Drug Use
- In 2008, an estimated 20.1 million Americans aged 12 or older were current (past month) illicit drug users, meaning they had used an illicit drug during the month prior to the survey interview. This estimate represents 8.0 percent of the population aged 12 years old or older. Illicit drugs include marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription-type psychotherapeutics used nonmedically.
- The rate of current illicit drug use among persons aged 12 or older in 2008 (8.0 percent) was the same as the rate in 2007 (8.0 percent).
- Marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug (15.2 million past month users). Among persons aged 12 or older, the rate of past month marijuana use in 2008 (6.1 percent) was similar to the rate in 2007 (5.8 percent).
- In 2008, there were 1.9 million current cocaine users aged 12 or older, comprising 0.7 percent of the population. These estimates were similar to the number and rate in 2007 (2.1 million or 0.8 percent), but lower than the estimates in 2006 (2.4 million or 1.0 percent).
- Hallucinogens were used in the past month by 1.1 million persons (0.4 percent) aged 12 or older in 2008, including 555,000 (0.2 percent) who had used Ecstasy. These estimates were similar to the corresponding estimates for 2007.
- There were 6.2 million (2.5 percent) persons aged 12 or older who used prescription-type psychotherapeutic drugs nonmedically in the past month. These estimates were lower than in 2007 (6.9 million or 2.8 percent).
- The number of past month methamphetamine users decreased by over half between 2006 and 2008. The numbers were 731,000 in 2006, 529,000 in 2007, and 314,000 in 2008.
- Among youths aged 12 to 17, the current illicit drug use rate remained stable from 2007 (9.5 percent) to 2008 (9.3 percent). Between 2002 and 2008, youth rates declined significantly for illicit drugs in general (from 11.6 to 9.3 percent) and for marijuana (8.2 to 6.7 percent), cocaine (0.6 to 0.4 percent), prescription-type drugs used nonmedically (4.0 to 2.9 percent), pain relievers (3.2 to 2.3 percent), stimulants (0.8 to 0.5 percent), and methamphetamine (0.3 to 0.1 percent).
- The rate of current marijuana use among youths aged 12 to 17 decreased from 8.2 percent in 2002 to 6.7 percent in 2006 and remained unchanged at 6.7 percent in 2007 and 2008.
- The rate of current hallucinogen use among youths aged 12 to 17 increased from 0.7 percent in 2007 to 1.0 percent in 2008.
- Rates of current use of illicit drugs in 2008 were higher among young adults aged 18 to 25 (19.6 percent) than for youths aged 12 to 17 (9.3 percent) and adults aged 26 or older (5.9 percent). Among young adults, there were no changes from 2007 to 2008 in the rate of current use of marijuana (16.5 percent in 2008), psychotherapeutics (5.9 percent), and hallucinogens (1.7 percent). The rate of cocaine use in this age group declined from 2.6 percent in 2005 to 1.5 percent in 2008.
- From 2002 to 2008, there was an increase among young adults aged 18 to 25 in the rate of current nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers (from 4.1 to 4.6 percent) and in LSD (from 0.1 to 0.3 percent). There were decreases in the use of inhalants (from 0.5 to 0.3 percent) and methamphetamine (from 0.6 to 0.2 percent).
- Among those aged 50 to 59, the rate of past month illicit drug use increased from 2.7 percent in 2002 to 4.6 percent in 2008. This trend may partially reflect the aging into this age group of the baby boom cohort, whose lifetime rate of illicit drug use is higher than those of older cohorts.
- Among persons aged 12 or older in 2007-2008 who used pain relievers nonmedically in the past 12 months, 55.9 percent got the drug they most recently used from a friend or relative for free. Another 18.0 percent reported they got the drug from one doctor. Only 4.3 percent got pain relievers from a drug dealer or other stranger, and 0.4 percent bought them on the Internet. Among those who reported getting the pain reliever from a friend or relative for free, 81.7 percent reported in a follow-up question that the friend or relative had obtained the drugs from just one doctor.
- Among unemployed adults aged 18 or older in 2008, 19.6 percent were current illicit drug users, which was higher than the 8.0 percent of those employed full time and 10.2 percent of those employed part time. However, most illicit drug users were employed. Of the 17.8 million current illicit drug users aged 18 or older in 2008, 12.9 million (72.7 percent) were employed either full or part time. The number of unemployed illicit drug users increased from 1.3 million in 2007 to 1.8 million in 2008, primarily because of an overall increase in the number of unemployed persons.
- In 2008, 10.0 million persons aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the past year. This corresponds to 4.0 percent of the population aged 12 or older, the same as the rate in 2007 (4.0 percent), but lower than the rate in 2002 (4.7 percent). In 2008, the rate was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25 (12.3 percent).
Well, there you have the latest information as to what Americans are doing with illicit drugs. In a followup post we’ll provide the survey’s findings on Alcohol Abuse in America. Please stay tuned.