Prevalence of Illegal Drug Use in the US Among People Aged 12 or Older

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"In 2018, nearly 1 in 5 people aged 12 or older (19.4 percent) used an illicit drug in the past year, which is a higher percentage than in 2015 and 2016. The estimate of past year illicit drug use for 2018 was driven primarily by marijuana use, with 43.5 million past year marijuana users. The percentage of people aged 12 or older in 2018 who used marijuana in the past year (15.9 percent) was higher than the percentages in 2002 to 2017. This increase in past year marijuana use for people aged 12 or older reflects increases in marijuana use among both young adults aged 18 to 25 and adults aged 26 or older. In contrast, past year marijuana use among adolescents aged 12 to 17 did not increase between 2014 and 2018.

"Prescription pain reliever misuse was the second most common form of illicit drug use in the United States in 2018, with 3.6 percent of the population misusing pain relievers. For people aged 12 or older and for young adults aged 18 to 25, the percentages who misused prescription pain relievers in the past year were lower in 2018 than in 2015 to 2017. Similar decreases in pain reliever misuse were observed for adolescents aged 12 to 17 and adults aged 26 or older in 2018 compared with 2015 and 2016 but not when compared with 2017. Among people aged 12 or older in 2018 who misused pain relievers in the past year, the most common main reason for their last misuse of a pain reliever was to relieve physical pain (63.6 percent). More than half (51.3 percent) of people who misused pain relievers in the past year obtained the last pain reliever they misused from a friend or relative.

"NSDUH also allows for estimation of opioid misuse, which is defined as the use of heroin or the misuse of prescription pain relievers. In 2018, an estimated 10.3 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids in the past year, including 9.9 million prescription pain reliever misusers and 808,000 heroin users. Approximately 506,000 people misused prescription pain relievers and used heroin in the past year. The percentage of people aged 12 or older in 2018 who were past year opioid misusers was lower than the percentages between 2015 and 2017, which was largely driven by declines in pain reliever misuse rather than by changes in heroin use."

Source: 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP19-5068, NSDUH Series H-54). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/
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