In the latest national drug control strategy, issued today, the Obama administration proposes actions to deal with three special populations affected by high rates of substance use: active duty military and veterans; college students; and women and their dependent children. An estimated 375,000 Veterans Administration patients had a substance use disorder diagnosis in 2007. About 44 percent of college students reported binge drinking in the previous 30 days, and 20 percent reported past-month use of marijuana or other illegal drugs. Women are also using drugs in increasing numbers, but continue to receive treatment less frequently than men, while teenage girls are abusing prescription drugs at higher rates than teenage boys.
Drug policy director Gil Kerlikowske noted that overall U.S. drug use had dropped substantially over the past thirty years. The rate of Americans’ using illicit drugs today is roughly half the rate it was in the late 70s. More recently, there has been a 46 percent drop in current cocaine use among adults ages 18 to 25 years over the past five years, and a 68 percent drop in the rate of people testing positive for cocaine in the workplace since 2006.