January 24, 2003
Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug, and it is usually the first drug used by persons who use illicit drugs.1 The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) asks respondents aged 12 or older questions about their use of marijuana or hashish and other illicit and licit substances. For each substance ever used, respondents are asked when they first used the substance. These data are used to study patterns and trends in drug initiation, or first time use.
Figure 1. Estimated Numbers (in Thousands) of Persons Who First Used Marijuana During the Years 1990 to 2000
Figure 2. Percentages of Recent Marijuana Initiates By Age of First Marijuana Use
Recent marijuana initiates who used marijuana for the first time before the age of 15 were more likely to have used marijuana before using cigarettes or alcohol (17 percent) than those who had tried marijuana for the first time at the age of 15 or older (15 to 17 years old, 9 percent; 18 to 20 years old, 4 percent; 21 or older, 1 percent).
Figure 3. Estimated Average Number of Males and Females Who Were Recent Marijuana Initiates Per Day for Each Month
Figure 4. Percentages of Recent Marijuana Initiates Reporting Cigarette or Alcohol Use Prior to Marijuana Initiation
** Estimated using 2001 data only.
Note: Recent initiates are persons who used marijuana for the first time in 1998 or 1999.
Note: Estimates are based on respondents who gave a substantive response to the month of first use question; hence, only those current age and age of first using marijuana is less than 2 years. The average number of initiates per day was calculated by applying the percentage distribution of the month of first marijuana use among persons aged 12 or older to the estimated number of initiates in 1998 and 1999 and adjusting for the number of days in each month.
Source: (figure 1) SAMHSA 19992001 NHSDAs
Source: (all remaining figures) SAMHSA 19992000 NHSDAs
|The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) is an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The 1999, 2000, and 2001 data are based on information obtained from approximately 70,000 persons aged 12 or older per year. The survey collects data by administering questionnaires to a representative sample of the population through facetoface interviews at their place of residence.
The NHSDA Report is prepared by the Office of Applied Studies (OAS), SAMHSA, and by RTI in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
Information and data for this issue are based on the following publications and statistics:
Gfroerer, J.C., Wu, L.T., & Penne, M.A. (2002). Initiation of marijuana use: Trends, patterns, and implications (DHHS Publication No. SMA 023711, Analytic Series A17). Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies.
Office of Applied Studies. (2002). Results from the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Volume I. Summary of national findings (DHHS Publication No. SMA 023758, NHSDA Series H17). Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Office of Applied Studies. (2001). Summary of findings from the 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (DHHS Publication No. SMA 013549, NHSDA Series H13). Rockville, MD: Author.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2000). Summary of findings from the 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (DHHS Publication No. SMA 003466, NHSDA Series H12). Rockville, MD: Author
Also available online: http://www.oas.samhsa.gov.
Additional tables available on request.
|The NHSDA Report is published periodically by the Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). All material appearing in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission from SAMHSA. Additional copies of this fact sheet may be downloaded from Other reports from the Office of Applied Studies are also available on-line on the OAS home page: http://www.oas.samhsa.gov|
This page was last updated on December 31, 2008.