Quick overview of drug use statistics for 2007
* Percent of persons 12 years of age and over reporting any illicit drug use in the past month: 8.0%
* Percent of persons 12 years of age and over with marijuana reporting in the past month: 5.8%
* Percent of persons 12 years of age and over reporting any nonmedical use of a psychotherapeutic drug in the past month: 2.8%
A number of information sources are used to quantify America’s drug problem and to monitor drug use statistics. Foremost among these sources are the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey* and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health** (NSDUH). Since 1975, the MTF survey has measured drug, alcohol, and cigarette use as well as related attitudes among adolescent students nationwide. For the 2009 survey, 46,097 students in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades from 389 public and private schools participated. Funded by NIDA, the MTF survey is conducted by investigators at the University of Michigan.
The NSDUH is an annual drug use statistics survey on the nationwide prevalence and incidence of illicit drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, abuse, and dependence among Americans aged 12 years and older, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Approximately 67,500 people are included in this survey. Because of differences in the timing of administration of the surveys, reported NSDUH data are 1 year behind those of MTF.
In MTF and NSDUH, there are three primary prevalence periods for which data are reported: lifetime, past year, and past month (also referred to as “current”). It is generally believed that past year and past month are the better indicators of actual drug use statistics. However, some analyses are done for only one specific prevalence period. Therefore, data for both past year and past month are reported here.
Drug Use Statistics: Alcohol
Overall, the prevalence of underage (ages 12–20) alcohol use and binge drinking has been in a long-term, gradual decline across all three grade levels.
2008 drug use statistics an estimates 31 million people (12.4 percent) aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year. Although this reflects a downward trend from 14.2 percent in 2002, it remains a cause for concern.
Drug Use Statistics: Tobacco
According to NIDA’s MTF survey, smoking rates are at their lowest point in the history of the survey. However, in the past year, smoking prevalence among all three grades remained unchanged.
The NSDUH drug use statistics found from 2002 to 2008, the rate of past-month cigarette use fell from 13.0 percent to 9.1 percent among 12- to 17-year olds. Another encouraging trend is the decline in cigarette use by young adults aged 18 to 25 years—from 40.8 percent in 2002 to 35.7 percent in 2008.
Drug Use Statistics: Illicit Drugs
The decline in illicit drug use by the Nation’s adolescents since the mid- to late-1990s has leveled off. Among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders, lifetime, past-year, and current illicit drug use remained unchanged from 2008 to 2009. However, from 2004 to 2009, lifetime use of illicit drugs by 10th- and 12th-graders fell among about 10 and 9 percent, respectively. The trend for illicit drug use has been driven largely by reported use of marijuana.
Drug use statistics show that marijuana use across the three grades has shown a consistent decline since the mid-1990s, but the trend has stalled, with prevalence rates the same in 2009 as they were 5 years ago. Perceived risk of regular marijuana use decreased among 8th- and 10th-graders, while perceived availability declined among 12th-graders.
Between 2004 and 2009, a drop in past-year use of methamphetamine was reported for all grades. Among 10th- and 12th-graders, 5-year declines were reported for past-year use of amphetamine.
According to NSDUH, current cocaine use gradually declined between 2003 and 2008 among people aged 12 or older (from 2.3 million to 1.9 million). In 2009, significant declines from 2008 were also seen in past-year use of cocaine among 12th-graders and in current cocaine use among 10th- and 12th-graders in the MTF survey. Another positive long-term decline (from 2004 to 2009) was seen in lifetime, past-year, and current use of crack cocaine among 10th- and 12th-graders.
Both past-year and past-month use rates of hallucinogens among 12th-graders fell significantly between 2008 and 2009. Also during that time, lifetime use of heroin and current use of inhalants decreased significantly among 10th-graders.
Despite some downward trends, the drug use statistics from MTF survey data highlight some problem areas. For example, there has been an increase in lifetime, past-month, and daily use of smokeless tobacco among 10th-graders. Also, for the fourth year in a row, there was a drop in perceived harmfulness of MDMA (ecstasy) reported for all grades. Changes in attitude such as these often precede increases in use.
Drug Use Statistics: Prescription Drugs
Another area of concern is the nonmedical use of prescription drugs. Among 12th-graders, 8 of the 13 most commonly abused drugs (excluding tobacco and alcohol) were prescription or over-the-counter medications, over half of which were given to them or were purchased from a friend or relative.
According to drug use statistics from the 2009 MTF survey, past-year nonmedical use of Vicodin and OxyContin increased during the last 5 years among 10th-graders; and remained unchanged among 8th- and 12th-graders. Nearly 1 in 10 high school seniors reported past-year nonmedical use of Vicodin, and 1 in 20 abused OxyContin. The NSDUH showed that in 2008, the number of individuals aged 12 or older who abused prescription pain relievers for the first time (2.2 million) was roughly even with that of marijuana.