National Survey Shows Decline in Youth Substance Use
The substance use results of SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) are out and there is good news. The survey shows fewer adolescents binge drinking, using alcohol at all, and using tobacco products and illicit drugs than in the year before.
A short report of the data was released at the recent Recovery Month press conference, during which SAMHSA leaders spoke about the findings. “In order to resolve an issue, or solve a problem, or improve a situation, we have to understand it. And that is what NSDUH helps us to do. The data about addiction and mental illness and untreated behavioral health problems become our teacher,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde, J.D.
While the short report included some mental health findings, the complete 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report on mental health will be released later this year. The data from the NSDUH report illustrates the importance of prevention and education, and how people are experiencing intervention and access to both substance use and mental health treatment.
Highlights from the NSDUH Report
Adolescents (ages 12 to 17)
- Use of illicit drugs by youth decreased in 2013 to 8.8 percent.
- About half (48.6) of the youth population felt that it would be “fairly easy” or “very easy” to obtain marijuana.
- Adolescents did not see or hear drug and alcohol prevention messages outside school as much as in the past (72.6 percent, compared with 83.2 percent in 2002).
- About one in eight youth report that they were approached by someone selling drugs.
- Nonmedical prescription drug and pain reliever use also declined; approximately 2 percent of the population report using these.
- At least one in ten youth used alcohol (11.6 percent).
- More than half (52.2 percent) of underage drinkers consumed alcohol at someone else’s home, and 34.2 percent drank at home.
- Youth who drank alcohol were more likely to use illicit drugs – and for those under the influence of alcohol, marijuana was most common.
- Youth who smoke cigarettes were also more likely to use illicit drugs (53.9 percent), compared with youth who do not smoke (6.1 percent).
Illicit Drug Use
- Marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Since 2007, the number of daily users of the drug increased from 5.1 to 8.1 million in 2013.
- Adults who were unemployed were more likely to use illicit drugs (18.2 percent) compared to those who were employed full-time (9.1 percent).
- More than half of the American population (52.2 percent) were current drinkers of alcohol – or approximately 136.9 million people.
- Over 60 million people binge drink, 38 percent of whom are young adults (ages 18 to 25).
- The highest incidence of driving under the influence (approximately 20 percent) was with people ages 21 to 29.
Substance Dependence or Abuse
- Approximately 22 million people aged 12 or older experienced substance dependence or abuse – 14.7 million of whom were using alcohol only.
- Nearly one in five adults aged 18 or older experienced mental illness, with 4.2 percent having a serious mental illness.
- Approximately 4 percent of the adult population had serious thoughts of suicide.
- Close to 67 million Americans aged 12 or older are current users of a tobacco product – that’s one-in-four people.
- Over the last decade (2002 to 2013), there was a decrease in use of tobacco from 30.4 percent to 25.5 percent.
The Substance Use and Mental Health Estimates from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health is an annual SAMHSA report. The survey is conducted with approximately 70,000 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older. “The NSDUH is a powerful statistical tool that monitors the pulse of mental health and substance use issues affecting the nation,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde, J.D. “It’s used by people all over the country to plan programs and develop approaches to address these issues.”