Meth is down, but other drug use remains high including marijuana and prescription drugs.
SAMHSA’s press release:
The use of illicit drugs among Americans increased between 2008 and 2010
according to a national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The National Survey on
Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows that 22.6 million Americans 12 or
older (8.9-percent of the population) were current illicit drug users.
The rate of use in 2010 was similar to the rate in 2009 (8.7-percent),
but remained above the 2008 rate (8-percent).
An increased rate in the current use of marijuana seems to be one of the prime factors in
the overall rise in illicit drug use. In 2010, 17.4 million Americans
were current users of marijuana – compared to 14.4 million in 2007. This
represents an increase in the rate of current marijuana use in the
population 12 and older from 5.8-percent in 2007 to 6.9-percent in 2010.
Another disturbing trend is the continuing rise in the rate of current illicit
drug use among young adults aged 18 to 25 – from 19.6-percent in 2008 to
21.2-percent in 2009 and 21.5-percent in 2010. This increase was also
driven in large part by a rise in the rate of current marijuana use
among this population.
The annual NSDUH survey, released by SAMHSA
at the kickoff of the 22nd annual National Recovery Month (Recovery
Month) observance also shows that use rates for nonmedical use of
prescription drugs, hallucinogens and inhalants have remained at
approximately the same levels as 2009, and are also similar to rates in
“We stand at a crossroads in our nation’s efforts to prevent
substance abuse and addiction,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S.
Hyde. “These statistics represent real lives that are at risk from the
harmful and sometimes devastating effects of illicit drug use. This
nation cannot afford to risk losing more individuals, families and
communities to illicit drugs or from other types of substance abuse –
instead, we must do everything we can to effectively promote prevention,
treatment and recovery programs across our country.”
“Emerging research reveals potential links between state laws permitting access to
smoked medical marijuana and higher rates of marijuana use,” said Gil
Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “In light of what
we know regarding the serious harm of illegal drug use, I urge every
family – but particularly those in states targeted by pro-drug political
campaigns – to redouble their efforts to shield young people from
serious harm by educating them about the real health and safety
consequences caused by illegal drug use.”
Among the survey’s other noteworthy findings is that the majority (55-percent) of persons aged
12 and older who had used prescription pain relievers non-medically in
the past 12 months received them from a friend or relative for free.
Only 4.4-percent of those misusing pain relievers in the past year
reported getting their supply from a drug dealer and 0.4-percent bought
it on the Internet.
Despite some troubling trends, the 2010 NSDUH showed some areas of improvement in terms of lower use levels for
certain substances. The number of current methamphetamine users
decreased by roughly half from 2006 to 2010 – from 731,000 people age 12
and older (0.3-percent) to 353,000 (0.1-percent). Cocaine use has also
declined, from 2.4 million current users in 2006 to 1.5 million in 2010.
In addition, among 12 – 17 year olds there were decreases between 2009
and 2010 in current drinking rates (from 14.7-percent down to
13.6-percent) and current tobacco use rates (from 11.6-percent to
As in previous years, the 2010 NSDUH shows a vast
disparity between the number of people needing specialized treatment for
a substance abuse problem and the number who actually receive it.
According to the survey, 23.1 million Americans aged 12 or older
(9.1-percent) needed specialized treatment for a substance abuse
problem, but only 2.6 million (or roughly 11.2-percent of them) received
NSDUH is a scientifically conducted annual survey of
approximately 67,500 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older.
Because of its statistical power, it is the nation’s premier source of
statistical information on the scope and nature of many substance abuse
behavioral health issues affecting the nation.
The complete survey findings are available on the SAMHSA Web site at http://oasbeta.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm.
For more information about SAMHSA, please visit http://www.samhsa.gov.
Recovery Month (Recovery Month) is a national observance that
recognizes the accomplishments of people in recovery from mental and
substance use disorders, the contributions of treatment providers, and
spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to
overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people
can and do recover. Electronic versions of Recovery Month materials are
available at http://www.recoverymonth.gov.
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is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human
Services. Its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and
mental illness on America’s communities.