Youth Substance Use Declines
National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month launched its 19th year with SAMHSA presenting new data that show a drop in illicit drug use among youth.
SAMHSA’s 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that prescription drug misuse is still a concern. Data also show an increase in drug use among 50- to 59-year-olds.
SAMHSA’s Acting Administrator Eric B. Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H., and the Director
of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) H. Westley Clark, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., presented this and other data at the National Press Club event held in early September.
“The numbers support the fact that treatment and prevention programs are making marks in certain segments of the population,” Dr. Clark said.
Although the current illicit drug use rate among youth age 12 to 17 remained stable from 2005 to 2007, the rate significantly declined since 2002 among this age group, from 11.6 percent in 2002 to 9.5 percent in 2007.
Youth drug use declined for nearly every type of drug, including marijuana, LSD, ecstasy, pain relievers, stimulants, and methamphetamine (see Drugs and Youth: Chart Shows 2002 to 2007 Data).
The level of alcohol use also dropped among 12- to 17-year-olds, from 17.6 percent in 2002 to 15.9 percent in 2007. “These new, recently declining rates in alcohol use among the youngest participants in the survey may be a leading indicator of an emerging pattern consistent with the goals of the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking,” Dr. Broderick said.
Source: SAMHSA, 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (September 2008).
Despite many positive trends, the survey also reveals some less encouraging data. Among young adults age 18 to 25, the level of current nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers has risen 12 percent (from
4.1 in 2002 to 4.6 percent in 2007). Among adults age 26 and older, the rate also increased, from 1.3 to 1.6 percent.
Overall, 6.9 million people (2.8 percent) age 12 or older used prescription-type psychotherapeutic drugs nonmedically in the past month. Of these, 5.2 million used pain relievers, the same number as in 2006.
Among people age 12 or older who used pain relievers nonmedically in the past
year, 56.5 percent reported that the source
of the drug the most recent time they used was a friend or relative for free. Another 18.1 percent reported they got the drug
from one doctor.
Among adults age 50 to 59, the rate
of current illicit drug use showed an increasing trend between 2002 and 2007. For those age 50 to 54, the rate increased from 3.4 percent in 2002 to 5.7 percent
The level of current illicit drug use
among people age 55 to 59 more than doubled from 1.9 percent in 2002 to 4.1 percent in 2007.
Marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug (14.4 million past-month users). Among people age 12 or older, the rate of past-month marijuana use in 2007 (5.8 percent) was similar to the corresponding estimates for 2005 and 2006.
Current marijuana use among youth
age 12 to 17 declined from 8.2 percent
in 2002 to 6.7 percent in 2007. Most of the decline occurred between 2002 and 2005.
NSDUH is a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 67,500 people throughout the Nation. It is a primary source of information on the levels of illicit drug, alcohol, and tobacco use as well as certain mental health conditions. Because of improvements to the survey in 2002, the 2002 data constitute a new baseline for tracking trends.
Complete NSDUH findings are available on the SAMHSA Web site.