If you run (or write grants for) programs dealing with drug use and/or prevention you may be interested in the new report discussing the results of the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The annual survey examines use of illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco products using a sample of persons living in the United States who are over 12 years of age and not in the military or an institution of some sort.
According to the 2011 data, the rate of current (defined as within the past 30 days) drug use among persons aged 12 or older did not change much overall compared to the rate from the prior year (8.7 percent versus 8.9 percent). The most commonly used drug was marijuana, with an increased rate of use of 7 percent in 2011, up from 5.8 percent in 2010.
Among youths aged 12 to 17 years, the rate of current illicit drug use remained stable at approximately 10 percent between 2010 and 2011, but was still higher than the 2008 rate of 9.3 percent. There has been no decline in marijuana use among this population since 2006. Among youths aged 12 to 17, the rate of current non-medical use of prescription drugs declined from 4 percent in 2002 to 2.8 percent in 2011.
Persons over the age of 12 who reported trying a new drug in the last year most often used marijuana, followed by the non-medical use of painkillers. Among those who reported recreational (non-medical) use of pain relievers in the past 12 months, over 54 percent obtained them through a friend or relative for no cost, while just over 18 percent reported they were prescribed the drug by a doctor. Less than 4 percent procured painkillers from an unknown person (stranger) or drug dealer.
Over 6 percent of the population reported drinking heavily in 2011, a drop of nearly half a percent. The rate of current alcohol use among youths aged 12 to 17 remained stable at 13.3 percent in 2011 (13.6 percent in 2010) as did their rates for binge drinking and heavy drinking. Among underage drinkers, their last experience with alcohol was most likely in someone else’s home (57 percent) while 28.2 percent reported last drinking in their residence.
Between 2002 and 2010, the count of persons reporting substance dependence or abuse fluctuated little (from 21.6 million to 22.7 million) and dropped slightly in 2011 to 22.2 million. Marijuana (used by 4.2 million), non-medical use of pain relievers (used by 1.8 million), and cocaine (used by 0.8 million) had the highest rates of dependence or abuse reported in the last year. An interesting, and disturbing, trend – the number of people reporting heroin dependence/abuse nearly doubled between 2007 (214,000) and 2011 (426,000). Heroin use is growing in popularity (620,000 past year users in 2011 compared to 373,000 in 2007 according to the survey data) and is expanding out of urban areas, possibly in response to the crackdown on prescription drug availability and abuse and the reformulation of some highly addictive pain relievers.
The report is available for download at the SAMHSA website.
Report Citation: Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-44, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4713. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2012.