Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Use of illicit drugs by youth is still way down from earlier in the decade, but ticked up slightly last year, according to this year’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The annual survey of 67,500 persons found that 10.1 percent of youth ages 12 to 17 had used illicit drugs within a month before they were questioned. That’s down significantly from the 11.6 percent of youth who reported past-month use in 2002, but up 0.1 percent from 2009.

The percentage of youth who reported using each illicit drug included in the survey – marijuana, cocaine, psychotherapeutics, inhalants and hallucinogens –was lower in 2010 than in 2002.

The percent of underage drinkers in 2010 decreased in each age range (12 to13, 14 to 15, 16 to 17 and 18 to 20) from that of 2002, with 16- and 17-year-olds recording the largest percentage decrease, a little more than 8 percent. The percent of alcohol-using youths ranged from 3.1 percent of 12- and 13-year-olds to 24.6 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds. 

Teens’ reported use of tobacco has decreased since 2002 with the exception of smokeless tobacco, which has increased slightly in popularity, up .3 percent since 2002.

While the percentage of youths who had used non-prescription pain relievers during the past year increased significantly between 1998 and 2002 (from a little above 3 percent of youth in 1998 to about 7.7 percent in 2002), the percentage of users had decreased to 6.2 percent by 2010.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health is conducted annually by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and RTI International.

To read the free, 156 page report, click here.

  • Jillian Galloway

    Forty years ago when the federal marijuana prohibition started, it was assumed that the prohibition would quickly end marijuana-use in this country. However, during the four decades since that time we have observed that the prohibition is incapable of ever ending the use of marijuana.

    The massive and unrelenting demand for marijuana in this country combined with the absence of any legal supply draws drug dealers into our neighborhoods trying to sell marijuana to our children. Given the failure of the prohibition, parents in this country have to decide whether they want supermarkets selling marijuana to adults or drug dealers selling marijuana to children. As reinforced by this survey, there are NO other options.