Continuing in the theme of providing you with the latest research information, the following just-published data is from the latest survey taken by SAMHSA and encompasses 2008. This is just the summary data. For the complete report click here.
Initiation of Substance Use (Incidence, or First-Time Use) within the Past 12 Months
In 2008, an estimated 2.9 million persons aged 12 or older used an illicit drug for the first time within the past 12 months. This averages to almost 8,000 initiates per day and is similar to the estimate for 2007. A majority of these past year illicit drug initiates reported that their first drug was marijuana (56.6 percent). Nearly one third initiated with psychotherapeutics (29.6 percent, including 22.5 percent with pain relievers, 3.2 percent with tranquilizers, 3.0 percent with stimulants, and 0.8 percent with sedatives). A sizable proportion reported inhalants (9.7 percent) as their first illicit drug, and a small proportion used hallucinogens as their first drug (3.2 percent).In 2008, the illicit drug categories with the largest number of past year initiates among persons aged 12 or older were marijuana use (2.2 million) and nonmedical use of pain relievers (2.2 million). These estimates were not significantly different from the numbers in 2007.In 2008, there were 729,000 persons aged 12 or older who had used inhalants for the first time within the past 12 months; 70.4 percent were under age 18 when they first used. There was no significant change in the number of inhalant initiates from 2007 to 2008, but the number in 2008 was significantly lower than the estimate in 2005 (877,000).The number of past year initiates of methamphetamine among persons aged 12 or older was 95,000 in 2008. This estimate was significantly lower than the estimate in 2007 (157,000) and was less than one third of the number estimated in 2004 (318,000).Following substantial drops in initiation between 2002 and 2003, estimates of initiation of Ecstasy and LSD among persons aged 12 or older have increased significantly. Between 2003 and 2008, the number of Ecstasy initiates increased from 642,000 to 894,000, and the number of LSD initiates increased from 200,000 to 394,000.Most (84.6 percent) of the 4.5 million past year alcohol initiates were younger than age 21 at the time of initiation.The number of persons aged 12 or older who smoked cigarettes for the first time within the past 12 months was 2.4 million in 2008, similar to the estimate in 2007 (2.2 million) but significantly higher than the estimate for 2002 (1.9 million). Most new smokers in 2008 were under age 18 when they first smoked cigarettes (58.8 percent); however, the number of persons initiating smoking at age 18 or older increased from about 600,000 in 2002 to 1 million in 2008.
Youth Prevention-Related Measures
Perceived risk is measured by NSDUH as the percentage reporting that there is great risk in the substance use behavior. The percentage of youths aged 12 to 17 perceiving great risk in smoking marijuana once or twice a week increased from 51.5 percent in 2002 to 55.0 percent in 2005, but dropped to 53.1 percent in 2008. A decline from 2005 to 2008 also was observed for using LSD once or twice a week (76.2 percent in 2002, 76.1 percent in 2005, and 73.9 percent in 2008). Between 2002 and 2008, the percentages who reported great risk in using alcohol and cigarettes increased. In 2002, 63.1 percent of youths reported great risk in smoking one or more packs of cigarettes per day, and in 2008 the percentage increased to 69.7 percent. In 2002, 38.2 percent reported great risk in binge drinking once or twice a week, and in 2008 the percentage increased to 40.5 percent.Almost half (49.2 percent) of youths aged 12 to 17 reported in 2008 that it would be “fairly easy” or “very easy” for them to obtain marijuana if they wanted some. Around one quarter reported it would be easy to get cocaine (22.1 percent). About one in seven (13.8 percent) indicated that LSD would be “fairly” or “very” easily available, and 13.0 percent reported easy availability for heroin. Between 2002 and 2008, there were declines in the perceived availability for all four drugs.A majority of youths aged 12 to 17 (90.8 percent) in 2008 reported that their parents would strongly disapprove of their trying marijuana or hashish once or twice. Current marijuana use was much less prevalent among youths who perceived strong parental disapproval for trying marijuana or hashish once or twice than for those who did not (4.3 vs. 29.8 percent).In 2008, 11.1 percent of youths aged 12 to 17 reported that they had participated in substance use prevention programs outside of school within the past year. This was lower than the percentage reported in 2002 (12.7 percent). Almost four fifths (78.0 percent) reported having seen or heard drug or alcohol prevention messages from sources outside of school, lower than in 2002 when the percentage was 83.2 percent. The percentage of school-enrolled youths reporting that they had seen or heard prevention messages at school also declined during this period, from 78.8 to 75.9 percent.