A rise in current marijuana use caused the level of overall illicit drug use in the U.S. to increase in the last two years, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) said today. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health 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).
Last year, 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. The agency said 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. The annual survey showed 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 2002. The number of current methamphetamine users decreased by roughly half from 2006 to 2010; cocaine use declined from 2.4 million current users in 2006 to 1.5 million in 2010. The survey showed a vast disparity between the number of people needing specialized treatment for a substance abuse problem and the number who receive it: 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) got it.