Decline Continues in Youth Drug Use
SAMHSA recently announced that current illicit drug
use among youth age 12 to 17 continues to decline. The
rate has been moving downward from 11.6 percent using
drugs in the past month in 2002 to 11.2 percent in 2003,
10.6 percent in 2004, and 9.9 percent in 2005.
This initial report from the 2005 National Survey on
Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) was released at the annual
National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month
observance (see SAMHSA News
article, Recovery Month!).
The report, Results from the 2005 National Survey
on Drug Use and Health: National Findings, focuses
on significant trends since 2002 in substance abuse and
mental health problems.
Similarly, the rate of current marijuana use among youth
age 12 to 17 declined significantly from 8.2 percent
in 2002 to 6.8 percent in 2005, and the average age of
first use of marijuana increased from under 17 years
of age in 2003 to 17.4 years in 2005.
Furthermore, drinking among teens declined, with 16.5
percent of youth age 12 to 17 reporting current alcohol
use and 9.9 percent reporting binge drinking. This compares
with 17.6 percent of this age group reporting drinking
in 2004 and 11.1 percent reporting binge drinking in
the past month in 2004.
These declines in alcohol use by youth age 12 to 17
follow years of relatively unchanged rates.
For young adults age 18 to 25, the picture is mixed.
While there were no significant changes in overall past-month
use of any illicit drugs in this age group between 2002
and 2005, cocaine use increased from 2.0 percent in 2002
to 2.6 percent in 2005. Past-month non-medical use of
prescription drugs among young adults increased from
5.4 percent in 2002 to 6.3 percent in 2005, due largely
to an increase in non-medical use of narcotic pain relievers.
The baby boomer generation presents a different story.
Among adults age 50 to 59, the rate of current illicit
drug use increased from 2.7 percent to 4.4 percent between
2002 and 2005.
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Source: SAMHSA Office of Applied
Studies. Results from the 2005 National Survey on
Drug Use and Health: National Findings, 2006, page
here to view larger image
More Survey Findings
Marijuana. There were 14.6 million
past-month users of marijuana in 2005. Among those age
12 and older, the rate of past-month marijuana use was
about the same in 2005 (6.0 percent) as in 2004 (6.1
percent), 2003 (6.2 percent), and 2002 (6.2 percent).
Prescription Drugs. There were 6.4
million persons age 12 and older (2.6 percent) who used
prescription drugs non-medically in the past month. Of
these, 4.7 million used narcotic pain relievers, 1.8
million used tranquilizers, 1.1 million used stimulants
(including 512,000 who used methamphetamine), and 272,000
used sedatives. Each of these estimates is similar to
the estimates for 2004.
Those who used prescription drugs non-medically were
asked how they obtained the drugs they used most recently.
In 2005, the prevalent source for drugs used non-medically
was “from a friend or relative for free”
(59.8 percent). Another 16.8 percent reported obtaining
the drug from one doctor, while 4.3 percent reported
getting narcotic pain relievers from a drug dealer or
other stranger, and 0.8 percent reported buying the drug
on the Internet.
Methamphetamine. From 2002 to 2005,
decreases were seen in lifetime (5.3 to 4.3 percent)
and past-year (0.7 to 0.5 percent) methamphetamine use,
but not past-month use (0.3 percent in 2002 vs. 0.2 percent
in 2005) for those age 12 and older.
|At the 2006 Recovery Month
launch on September 7, CSAT Director H. Westley Clark
(left) introduced a young woman in recovery from methamphetamine
Alcohol. More than one-fifth (22.7
percent) of persons age 12 and older participated in
binge drinking in 2005, which is comparable to the 2004
estimate. Binge drinking was defined as having five or
more drinks on the same occasion on at least one day
in the 30 days prior to being surveyed.
Prevention Measures. Current marijuana
use was much less prevalent among youth who perceived
strong parental disapproval for trying marijuana or hashish
once or twice than for those who did not (4.6 percent
vs. 27.0 percent).
Substance Dependence or Abuse. In 2005,
an estimated 22.2 million persons (9.1 percent of the
population age 12 and older) were classified with substance
dependence or abuse in the past year, based on criteria
specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV). Of these,
3.3 million were dependent on or abused both alcohol
and illicit drugs; 3.6 million were dependent on or abused
illicit drugs but not alcohol; and 15.4 million were
dependent on or abused alcohol, but not illicit drugs.
These numbers are basically unchanged since 2002.
Adults age 21 and older who had first used alcohol before
age 21 were almost five times more likely than adults
who had their first drink at age 21 or older to be classified
with alcohol dependence or abuse (9.6 percent compared
to 2.1 percent).
Co-occurring Substance Use and Serious Psychological
Distress. Serious psychological distress among
adults age 18 and older was associated with past-year
substance dependence or abuse in 2005. Among the 24.6
million adults with serious psychological distress in
2005, 21.3 percent (5.2 million) were dependent on or
abused illicit drugs or alcohol. The rate of substance
dependence or abuse among adults without serious psychological
distress was 7.7 percent (14.9 million people).
Depression. In 2005, 15.8 million adults
(7.3 percent of persons age 18 and older) reported a
major depressive episode in the past year, a statistically
significant decline from the 17.1 million adults (8 percent)
reporting past-year major depressive episodes in 2004.
There were 2.2 million youth (8.8 percent) who experienced
a major depressive episode during the past year. Among
youth age 12 to 17, the occurrence of a major depressive
episode in the past year was associated with a higher
prevalence of illicit drug or alcohol dependence or abuse
(19.8 percent), compared with the prevalence among youth
who did not report past-year major depressive episodes
The full report of the 2005 National Survey on Drug
Use and Health is available on the SAMHSA Web site at
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