National Survey on Drug Use and Health

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National Survey on Drug Use and Health

U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

The newest annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that “current” drug use (defined as during the past month) among 12- to 17-year-olds rose from 9.3 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2009. That ends a decline that began in 2002, when 11.6 percent of youth reported current illicit drug use.

Among Americans overall, current use rose from 8 percent to 8.7 percent.

The report by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is based on surveys of 67,500 people aged 12 and older.

Across all ages, officials attributed the rise in drug use largely to marijuana. Among youth, that figure rose from 6.7 percent, where it had been since 2006, to 7.3 percent. And 49.3 percent of youth surveyed said they perceived “great risk of harm” from smoking pot once or twice a week, down from 53.1 percent in 2008 and the first time since 2002 that less than half the youth shared that belief.

Drug use by those 26 and older has increased since 2002, although the rate (6.3 percent) is still lower than the rate among youth. The highest level of illicit drug use was reported by 18- to 25-year-olds, increasing from 19.6 percent in 2008 to 21.2 percent in 2009.

Since 2002, the biggest and most sustained increase in illicit drug use has been among those ages 50 to 59. Those rates grew from 2.7 percent in 2002 to 6.2 percent in 2009.

As for other drugs, 3.1 percent of youth reported nonmedical use of prescription-type psychotherapeutics, 1 percent used inhalants, 0.9 percent used hallucinogens and 0.3 percent used cocaine.

The rate of youth tobacco use remained stable, with 11.6 percent using some type of tobacco product in the past month. Also largely unchanged were the rates of alcohol use (at least one drink in the past 30 days), at 27.2 percent, and binge drinking, at 18.1 percent.

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