Illicit Drug Use Up In U.S.; Survey Termed National “Wake-Up Call”


The use of illicit drugs among Americans increased between 2008 and 2009, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported today. Issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the survey shows the overall rate of current illicit drug use in the U.S. rose from 8 percent of the population aged 12 and older in 2008 to 8.7 percent in 2009. The rise was driven in large part by increases in marijuana use.

The nonmedical use of prescription drugs rose from 2.5 percent of the population in 2008 to 2.8 percent in 2009. The estimated number of past-month ecstasy users rose from 555,000 in 2008 to 760,000 in 2009, and the number of methamphetamine users rose from 314,000 to 502,000 during that period. Although the rate of overall illicit drug use among young people in 2009 remained below 2002 levels, youth use was higher in 2009 compared to 2008 (10.0 percent of youth in 2009, versus 9.3 percent in 2008, versus 11.6 percent in 2002). The rate of marijuana use in this age group followed a similar pattern, declining from 8.2 percent of young people in 2002, to 6.7 percent in 2006, remaining level until 2008, and then increasing to 7.3 percent in 2009. “These results are a wake-up call to the nation,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde. “Our strategies of the past appear to have stalled out with generation 'next.' “

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