National Drug Statistics Summary

This report provides the first information obtained in the 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), a project of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Since 1971, the NHSDA has been the primary source of information on the prevalence and incidence of illicit drug, alcohol, and tobacco use in the civilian population aged 12 years and older.

Over the years improvements have been made to the Survey to provide better and more complete information on issues associated with substance abuse. In 1999, significant changes were made in the size of the survey, the sample design, and the method of administration. The sample size was expanded almost fourfold; data are now based on information obtained from approximately 70,000 persons per year. A new sample design was introduced which supports both national and state level estimates. A new, interactive, bilingual, computer-based questionnaire replaced the paper and pencil questionnaires used previously. These changes improved the accuracy of the estimates and the utility of the data. At the same time, the changes limit the comparisons that can be made with information obtained from surveys prior to 1999. Therefore, the report focuses only on recent trends, from 1999 to 2000.

This report provides national estimates of rates of use, number of users, initiation of use, and other measures related to use of illicit drugs, licit drugs that are used for non-medical purposes, alcohol, cigarettes, and other forms of tobacco by the population aged 12 years and older in 1999 and 2000. State-level estimates will be provided in a later report. Selected findings are given below:

Illicit Drug Use

  • In calendar year 2000, an estimated 14.0 million Americans were current illicit drug users, meaning they had used an illicit drug during the month prior to interview. This estimate represents 6.3 percent of the population 12 years old and older.
  • There were no statistically significant changes between 1999 and 2000 in the overall rates of current use of any of the major illicit drug categories tracked by the survey.
  • As in prior years, men continued to have a higher rate of current illicit drug use than women (7.7 percent vs. 5.0 percent) in 2000. However, the rates of nonmedical use of psychotherapeutic drugs (pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives) were similar for males (1.8 percent) and females (1.7 percent).
  • Between 1999 and 2000, the rate of past month marijuana use among women aged 12 and older increased from 3.1 percent to 3.5 percent. This increase was primarily due to an increase in use among women aged 26 and older, from 1.4 percent in 1999 to 2.0 percent in 2000.
  • Among youth aged 12 to 17 in 2000, 9.7 percent had used an illicit drug within the 30 days prior to interview. This rate is almost identical to the rate for youth in 1999 (9.8 percent).
  • Among youths aged 12 and 13, the rate of past month illicit drug use declined from 3.9 percent in 1999 to 3.0 percent in 2000. This change was primarily the result of a significant drop in inhalant use (from 1.3 percent to 0.7 percent).
  • Approximately 2.1 million youths aged 12 to 17 had used inhalants at some time in their lives as of 2000. This constituted 8.9 percent of youths. Of youth, 3.9 percent had used glue, shoe polish, or Toluene, and 3.3 percent had used gasoline or lighter fluid.
  • Among youths aged 12 to 17 in 2000, the rate of current illicit drug use was similar for boys (9.8 percent) and girls (9.5 percent). While boys aged 12 to 17 had a slightly higher rate of marijuana use than girls in the same age category (7.7 percent compared to 6.6 percent), girls were somewhat more likely to use psychotherapeutics nonmedically than boys (3.3 percent compared to 2.7 percent). Between 1999 and 2000, there was no significant change in the rate of current illicit drug use for either males or females aged 12 to 17.
  • Among youths who were heavy drinkers in 2000, 65.5 percent were also current illicit drug users. Among nondrinkers, only 4.2 percent were current illicit drug users. Similarly, among youths who smoked cigarettes, the rate of past month illicit drug use was 42.7 percent, compared with 4.6 percent for nonsmokers.
  • An estimated 15.4 percent of unemployed adults were current illicit drug users in 2000, compared with 6.3 percent of full-time employed adults and 7.8 percent of part-time employed adults. Of the 11.8 million adult illicit drug users in 2000, 9.1 million (77 percent) were employed either full time or part time.
  • In 2000, among the estimated 1.2 million adults on parole or other supervised release from prison during the past year, 21.6 percent had used an illicit drug in the past month. This rate is higher than the rate for adults not on parole or supervised release (5.8 percent).
  • An estimated 7.0 million persons reported driving under the influence of an illicit drug at some time in the past year. This figure corresponds to 3.1 percent of the population age 12 and older and is significantly lower than the rate in 1999 (3.4 percent). Among young adults aged 18 to 25, 10.7 percent drove under the influence of illicit drugs at least once in the past year.
  • Although the nonmedical use of Oxycontin was rare in 2000, the NHSDA data show evidence of an emerging problem. The estimated number of lifetime nonmedical Oxycontin users increased from 221,000 in 1999 to 399,000 in 2000. The 2000 NHSDA was not designed to report the current use of Oxycontin.

Alcohol Use

  • Almost half of Americans aged 12 and older reported being current drinkers of alcohol in the 2000 survey (46.6 percent). This translates to an estimated 104 million people. Both the rate of alcohol use and number of drinkers were nearly the same in 2000 as in 1999 (46.4 percent and 103 million).
  • Heavy drinking was reported by 5.6 percent of the population aged 12 and older, or 12.6 million people. These 2000 estimates were nearly identical to the 1999 estimates.
  • About 9.7 million persons aged 12 to 20 reported drinking alcohol in the month prior to the survey interview in 2000 (27.5 percent of this age group). An estimated 6.6 million (18.7 percent) were binge drinkers and 2.1 million (6.0 percent) were heavy drinkers. All of these 2000 rates were similar to rates observed in 1999.
  • Males aged 12 to 20 were more likely than their female peers to report binge drinking in 2000 (21.3 percent compared to 15.9 percent).
  • Young adults aged 18 to 22 enrolled full-time in college were more likely than their peers not enrolled full-time to report any use, binge use, or heavy use of alcohol in 2000. Past month alcohol use was reported by 62.0 percent of full-time college students compared to 50.8 percent of their counterparts who were not currently enrolled full-time. Binge and heavy use rates for college students were 41.4 percent and 16.4 percent, respectively, compared with 35.9 percent and 12.1 percent, respectively, for other persons aged 18 to 22.
  • One in ten Americans aged 12 and older in 2000 (22.3 million persons) had driven under the influence of alcohol at least once in the 12 months prior to interview. Between 1999 and 2000, the rate of driving under the influence of alcohol declined from 10.9 percent to 10.0 percent, which is a statistically significant difference. Among young adults aged 18 to 25, 19.9 percent had driven under the influence of alcohol in 2000.

Source: SAMHSA 1999 NHSDA.