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How old is the NSDUH survey? How far back can trends be traced?

The Federal Government has conducted the survey in various forms since 1971, but there have been major changes over the years. For example, before 1990 the survey was only administered every 2 to 3 years and had a very small sample size compared to later iterations. In 1999 the survey shifted from paper-and-pencil data collection to computer-assisted interviewing, and the sample design expanded to include all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In 2002, the name of the survey changed from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Due to the recent addition of online data collection, 2021 and 2020 data cannot be compared to previous years or to each other. There is also a hard break in comparability between 2002 and previous years. Many indicators are not comparable before and after 2008 and 2015 as well. Please review survey documentation for your years of interest before conducting your own multi-year trend analysis.

For historical research, the concatenated public use file (PUF) includes all public-use variables between 2002 and 2019 that can be used in trends.

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