1996 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Preliminary Results

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There were no major changes in the prevalence of the use of inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin or non-medical use of psychotherapeutics between 1995 and 1996. However, between 1993 and 1996 there was a significant increase in the estimated number of past month heroin users, and between 1994 and 1996 there was a significant increase in hallucinogen use among youth.

Estimates of heroin use from the NHSDA are considered very conservative due to the probable undercoverage of the population of heroin users. Estimates of lifetime heroin prevalence have ranged from 2.3 million in 1979 to 1.5 million in 1990 and 2.4 million in 1996. The estimated number of current heroin users was 68,000 in 1993, 117,000 in 1994, 196,000 in 1995, and 216,000 in 1996, representing a statistically significant increase from 1993 to 1996. A ratio adjustment procedure that partially adjusts for underreporting and undercoverage results in estimates of 144,000 in 1993 and 342,000 in 1996 (See Appendix 2, "Estimation of Heavy Drug Use").

Among lifetime heroin users, the proportion who had ever smoked, sniffed, or snorted heroin increased from 55 percent in 1994 to 63 percent in 1995, and 82 percent in 1996. At the same time, the proportion who had ever used heroin with a needle remained unchanged (49 percent in 1994, 47 percent in 1995, and 52 percent in 1996) (Figure 10).

Undisplayed Graphic

The rate of current use of hallucinogens did not change between 1995 and 1996 (0.7 percent in 1995 and 0.6 percent in 1996). However, among youth age 12-17, the rate has nearly doubled in two years (1.1 percent in 1994, 1.7 percent in 1995, and 2.0 percent in 1996).

For inhalants, the overall rate of past month use has remained steady since 1994 (0.4 percent in 1994 through 1996).

The estimated prevalence rate of nonmedical use of psychotherapeutics (tranquilizers, sedatives, analgesics, or stimulants) in the past month was 1.2 percent in 1995 and 1.4 percent in 1996, not a statistically significant change.

The estimated number of persons who have tried methamphetamine in their lifetime was 4.9 million (2.3 percent of the population) in 1996. In 1994, the estimate had been 3.8 million (1.8 percent) and in 1995 it was 4.7 million (2.2 percent). These changes are not statistically significant.

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This page was last updated on February 05, 2009.