1997 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse
Since the NHSDA series began, alcohol has been reported as the most commonly used psychoactive substance. Approximately 177 million (82%) of the 216 million people aged 12 or older represented in 1997 reported alcohol use in their lifetime; an estimated 139 million persons (64%) reported use in the past year; and 111 million persons (51%) reported current use (in the past month) (see Table 2.1 and OAS, 1998b, Table 13A).
Alcohol occupies a unique position in American life and culture. Virtually all adults in the U.S. household population (from 84% of those aged 18 to 25 to 89% of those aged 26 to 34) have used alcohol at least once in their lifetime (see Table 7.1). Based on the fact that beverage alcohol may be legally used by adults aged 21 or older, such a finding is not unexpected and is consistent with results from earlier NHSDAs and from other surveys. The high prevalence of use among the young adults aged 18 to 20 (79% lifetime, 72% past year, and 53% past month, see Table 7.4), however, suggests that laws prohibiting the purchase, possession, and use of alcohol by young people in this age range may not be very effective. Furthermore, the high prevalence of use among youths aged 12 to 17 (40% lifetime, 34% past year, and 21% past month) supports this conclusion.
In the following sections of this chapter, more detailed information is provided about the prevalence and levels of use of alcohol by Americans in 1997.
This page was last updated on December 30, 2008.