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2003 State Estimates of Substance Use

2. Illicit Drug Use

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) obtains information on nine different categories of illicit drug use: marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and the nonmedical use of prescription-type pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives. Estimates of "any illicit drug" use reflect any of the nine categories listed above. In 2003, an estimated 8.2 percent of the population aged 12 or older had used an illicit drug in the past month, and the estimated percentage was similar in 2002 (8.3 percent) (Office of Applied Studies [OAS], 2004c, Table 1.28B). Marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug, was used by 6.2 percent of the population in both 2002 and 2003 (OAS, 2004c, Table 1.33B).

2.1. Any Illicit Drug

Estimates of past month use of any illicit drug ranged from a low of 6.3 percent in Utah to a high of 12.0 percent in Alaska for all persons aged 12 or older. Utah and Alaska were significantly lower and higher, respectively, compared with the national average (8.25 percent). (See Section 1.5 for a discussion of the proper use of the prediction intervals [PIs].) The States with the highest rates of any illicit drug use for all persons aged 12 or older were mostly in the West (six States) and the Northeast (three States). Colorado, New Hampshire, and Vermont were in the highest fifth for all persons aged 12 or older and for each of the age subgroups: 12 to 17, 18 to 25, and 26 or older. Most of the States that had the lowest rates in the Nation for persons aged 12 or older were either from the South (five States) or the Midwest (three States). New Jersey and Utah completed the lowest fifth (Figures 2.1 to 2.4).

2.2. Marijuana

Nationally, 6.2 percent of all persons aged 12 or older reported using marijuana in the past month in 2002–2003 (Table  B.3). Because marijuana is the predominant substance used by those using an illicit drug, States that had high prevalence rates for any illicit drug also had high prevalence rates for past month use of marijuana. Eight out of ten States in the top fifth for use of an illicit drug for persons aged 12 or older also were ranked in the top fifth for past month use of marijuana. In the 12 to 17 age group, seven States were in the top fifth for both use of any illicit drug and use of marijuana: Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Vermont. Eight States were common to the top fifth for past month marijuana use among persons aged 12 or older and youths aged 12 to 17: Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont (Figures 2.1, 2.2, 2.9, and 2.10). The States with the lowest rates of past month use of marijuana among persons aged 12 or older were in the South: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. The other States in the lowest fifth were Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, New Jersey, and Utah (Figure 2.9).

This is the first year in which past year use of marijuana has been estimated at the State level. The State rankings for past year use are very similar to those for past month use. An estimated 10.8 percent of the national population aged 12 or older had used marijuana in the past year (Table  B.2, Figure 2.5). Tennessee had the lowest rate (7.4 percent) of past year use of marijuana among persons aged 12 or older. Alaska had the highest rate of past year marijuana use among persons aged 12 or older (16.7 percent). The States with the highest rates of past year marijuana use were mostly in the West (five States) and the Northeast (four States).

2.3. Perceptions of Risk of Marijuana Use

An individual's perception of the risks of substance use has been shown to be related to whether he or she actually uses the substance (e.g., Bachman, Johnston, & O'Malley, 1998). The national percentage of persons (aged 12 or older) perceiving a great risk of using marijuana once a month increased significantly between 2002 and 2003, from 38.3 to 39.6 percent (OAS, 2004c, Table 3.1B).

States in the Northeast (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) and the West (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington) had the lowest rates of perceived great risk of using marijuana occasionally (once a month) among persons aged 12 or older. Only about 27 percent of all persons aged 12 or older in Washington thought that occasional use was a great risk (Table  B.4). Eight of the States having the lowest perceived risks also had rates in the highest fifth for past month marijuana use for persons aged 12 or older. Similarly, of the 10 States indicating the highest perceived risk of occasional marijuana use among persons aged 12 or older, five had past month marijuana use rates that were in the lowest fifth (Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, and Texas) (Figures 2.9 and 2.13).

2.4. Incidence of Marijuana Use

Related to the prevalence of marijuana use is the number of persons in a period of time who used marijuana for the first time ever. When the number of first-time users of a substance increases for a number of consecutive years, the prevalence rate for the substance tends to increase also. The average annual incidence of marijuana for this report is estimated somewhat differently than in the national report. The estimate for a single year is averaged over the 2 most recent years and expressed as a percentage or rate per 100 person years of exposure.6 For the combined years 2002–2003, the national marijuana incidence rate for all persons aged 12 or older was 1.8 percent. Vermont had the highest rate, 2.7 percent (Table  B.5).

The top fifth for average annual incidence of marijuana for persons aged 12 or older was comprised mostly of States from the West (five) and from the Northeast (four). Seven States ranked in the top fifth for marijuana incidence in the 12 or older age group also ranked in the top fifth for past month marijuana use (Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) (Figures 2.9 and 2.17). Because most initiation of marijuana takes place at age 25 or earlier (Gfroerer, Wu, & Penne, 2002), the rates of initiation in the 26 or older age group were much lower than those in the 12 to 17 and 18 to 25 age groups: 0.1, 6.6, and 6.8, respectively. Vermont had the highest rate among youths aged 12 to 17 (10.4), while New Hampshire had the highest rate among persons aged 18 to 25 (11.1) (Table  B.5). In the 12 or older age group, seven States from the South were ranked in the lowest fifth for incidence of marijuana (Figure 2.17).

2.5. Any Illicit Drug Other Than Marijuana

Illicit drugs other than marijuana include cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and the nonmedical use of prescription-type pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives. The national estimate of past month use of any illicit drug other than marijuana among persons aged 12 or older was 3.7 percent for 2002–2003 combined (Table  B.6). A number of States (five) that were in the top fifth for past month use of an illicit drug among those aged 12 or older also were ranked in the top fifth for past month use of an illicit drug other than marijuana: Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Rhode Island (Figures 2.1 and 2.20).

In the 18 to 25 age group, the rate of past month use of these drugs was highest in Rhode Island (13.4 percent); among youths, the rate was highest in Arizona (7.2 percent) (Table  B.6). Only Colorado and Kentucky were in the top fifth in all three age groups and for all persons aged 12 or older (Figures 2.20 to 2.23).

2.6. Cocaine

The national prevalence rate for the use of cocaine in the past year among all persons aged 12 or older was 2.5 percent. Because cocaine is one of the substances included in the "any illicit drug other than marijuana" category, it is useful to compare the rankings of States with respect to these two substance measures. In 2002–2003, only five of the States ranked in the highest fifth for past month use of an illicit drug other than marijuana (aged 12 or older) also had past year rates of cocaine use (aged 12 or older) that were in the highest fifth. Colorado had the highest rate of past year cocaine use (3.9 percent) among persons aged 12 or older; the District of Columbia had the highest rate (3.7 percent) among those aged 26 or older; Rhode Island had the highest rate (12.1 percent) among those aged 18 to 25; and Arizona had the highest rate (3.2 percent) among youths aged 12 to 17 (Table  B.7). Arizona and Colorado were the only States that ranked in the top fifth for all three age groups (12 to 17, 18 to 25, and 26 or older) (Figures 2.20, 2.24 to 2.27).

 

Figure 2.1 Any Illicit Drug Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.1     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.2 Any Illicit Drug Use in Past Month among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.2     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.3 Any Illicit Drug Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.3     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.4 Any Illicit Drug Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.4     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.5 Marijuana Use in Past Year among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.5     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.6 Marijuana Use in Past Year among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.6     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.7 Marijuana Use in Past Year among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.7     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.8 Marijuana Use in Past Year among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.8     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.9 Marijuana Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.9     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.10 Marijuana Use in Past Month among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.10     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.11 Marijuana Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.11     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.12 Marijuana Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.12     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.13 Perceptions of Great Risk of Smoking Marijuana Once a Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.13     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.14 Perceptions of Great Risk of Smoking Marijuana Once a Month among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.14     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.15 Perceptions of Great Risk of Smoking Marijuana Once a Month among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.15     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.16 Perceptions of Great Risk of Smoking Marijuana Once a Month among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.16     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.17 First Use of Marijuana among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Average Annual Rates Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.17     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.18 First Use of Marijuana among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: Average Annual Rates Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.18     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.19 First Use of Marijuana among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Average Annual Rates Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.19     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.20 Any Illicit Drug Use Other Than Marijuana in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.20     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.21 Any Illicit Drug Use Other Than Marijuana in Past Month among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.21     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.22 Any Illicit Drug Use Other Than Marijuana in Past Month among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.22     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.23 Any Illicit Drug Use Other Than Marijuana in Past Month among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.23     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.24 Cocaine Use in Past Year among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.24     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.25 Cocaine Use in Past Year among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.25     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.26 Cocaine Use in Past Year among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.26     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.

 

Figure 2.27 Cocaine Use in Past Year among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2002 and 2003 NSDUHs

Figure 2.27     D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002 and 2003.


End Note

6Average annual incidence rate = {(Number of marijuana initiates in past 24 months) / [(Number of marijuana initiates in past 24 months * 0.5) + Number of persons who never used marijuana]} / 2.
Please note that because the average annual incidence of marijuana was so low for the 26 or older age group and had such an abbreviated range, no map has been included for it; however, Table  B.5 includes these estimates. For details on how average annual incidence was calculated, refer to Appendix A (Section A.6).

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This page was last updated on June 03, 2008.