More Americans are using heroin and marijuana today than in previous years, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The NSDUH report, released this week by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), found that 7.3 percent of Americans were current users of marijuana – up from 5.8 percent in 2007. Daily or almost daily use of marijuana also increased from 5.1 million people in 2007 to 7.6 million people in 2012.
In addition to marijuana, the use of heroin also rose significantly. The number of people aged 12 and older who used heroin in the past year rose from 373,000 in 2007 to 669,000 in 2012. The rate of current illicit drug use among people 12 or older also rose from 8.1 percent in 2008 to 9.2 percent in 2012.
On a more positive note, the rate of past month prescription drug abuse among young adults ages 18-25 decreased from 6.4 percent in 2009 to 5.3 percent in 2012. Among 12- to 17-year-olds, past month drinking, binge drinking and heavy drinking rates also remained lower than in 2002 and 2009.
“These findings show that while we have made progress in preventing some aspects of substance abuse we must redouble our efforts to reduce and eliminate all forms of it throughout our nation,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “These statistics represent real people, families and communities dealing with the devastating consequences of abuse and addiction. We must strive to prevent further abuse and provide the hope of treatment and recovery to all people needing help.”
“It’s not safe for the developing brain of a young person [to drink alcohol] whether at home or anywhere else,” Hyde said.
Hyde stressed that parents and caregivers have a strong role to play when it comes to preventing kids from trying drugs, calling them “America’s strongest preventionists.” She noted that marijuana use was much less prevalent among youth who perceived strong parental disapproval for trying marijuana one or twice, than for those who did not.
The 2012 report also showed that many Americans needing treatment for a substance use disorder are still not receiving specialty treatment. According to the report 23.1 million Americans aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem in 2012 and only 2.5 million (or 10.8 percent of those in need) received it in a specialized treatment setting.
NSDUH is a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 70,000 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older. Because of its statistical power, it is a primary source of statistical information on the scope and nature of many substance abuse and mental health issues affecting the Nation.