Drug Use Prevalence

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

"In 2015, 27.1 million people aged 12 or older used an illicit drug in the past 30 days, which corresponds to about 1 in 10 Americans (10.1 percent). The illicit drug use estimate for 2015 continues to be driven primarily by marijuana use and the misuse of prescription pain relievers, with 22.2 million current marijuana users aged 12 or older (i.e., users in the past 30 days) and 3.8 million people aged 12 or older who reported current misuse of prescription pain relievers. The 2015 estimate of current marijuana users was similar to the estimate in 2014, but it was higher than the estimates from 2002 to 2013. This increase in marijuana use among people aged 12 or older reflects the increase in marijuana use by adults aged 26 or older and, to a lesser extent, the increase in marijuana use among young adults aged 18 to 25.
"In 2015, NSDUH adopted a revised definition of prescription drug misuse, which defined misuse as use in any way not directed by a doctor, including use without a prescription of one’s own; use in greater amounts, more often, or longer than told to take a drug; or use in any other way not directed by a doctor. The estimated 3.8 million people aged 12 or older who were current misusers of pain relievers represent 1.4 percent of the population aged 12 or older.
"The estimate of current heroin use in 2015 among people aged 12 or older was higher than the estimates in most years between 2002 and 2009, but it was similar to the estimates between 2010 and 2014. Current cocaine use in 2015 was similar to the estimates in most years between 2007 and 2013, but it was higher than the estimate in 2014. The 2015 estimate of crack use was similar to the estimates in most years from 2008 to 2014. There were new baselines in 2015 for hallucinogen, inhalant, and methamphetamine use (0.5, 0.2, and 0.3 percent, respectively, for current use among people aged 12 or older)."

Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 16-4984, NSDUH Series H-51). Page 1. Retrieved from
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2. Illegal Drug Use and Marijuana Use in Lifetime, Past Year, and Past Month in the US by Gender and Ethnicity

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which is conducted annually by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, estimates that in 2015, 130,610,000 people in the US aged 12 and older had tried an illegal drug in their lifetimes, of whom 47,730,000 had tried an illegal drug in the previous year, of whom 27,080,000 had tried an illegal drug in the previous month.
Also according to the NSDUH, in 2015, 117,865,000 had tried marijuana in their lifetime, of whom 36,043,000 had tried marijuana in the previous year, of whom 22,226,000 had tried marijuana in the previous month.

Click here for the full table "Illicit Drug Use and Marijuana Use in Lifetime, Past Year, and Past Month Among Persons Aged 12 and Older in the US, by Demographic Characteristics: Numbers in Thousands, 2015.

Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD, p. 232, Table 1.28A, and p. 242, Table 1.33A.
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https://www.samhsa.gov/data/si...

3. Estimated Number of Persons in the US with a Substance Use Disorder

"In 2015, approximately 20.8 million people aged 12 or older had an SUD in the past year, including 15.7 million people who had an alcohol use disorder and 7.7 million people who had an illicit drug use disorder (Figure 27). An estimated 2.7 million people aged 12 or older had both an alcohol use disorder and an illicit drug use disorder in the past year (Figure 28). Thus, among people aged 12 or older in 2015 who had an SUD in the past year, nearly 3 out of 4 had an alcohol use disorder, and about 1 out of 3 had an illicit drug use disorder. About 1 in 8 people aged 12 or older who had SUDs in the past year had both an alcohol use disorder and an illicit drug use disorder.
"Of the 7.7 million people aged 12 or older who had a past year SUD related to their use of illicit drugs, 4.0 million had a past year disorder related to their use of marijuana, and 2.0 million people had a disorder related to their misuse of prescription pain relievers (Figure 27). Smaller numbers of people in 2015 had disorders in the past year related to their use of cocaine or heroin."

Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 16-4984, NSDUH Series H-51). Page 21. Retrieved from
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4. Estimated 30-Day Prevalence of Use of Various Drugs for Grades 8, 10, and 12 Combined


Click here for complete datatable of Estimated 30-Day Prevalence of Use of Various Drugs for Grades 8, 10, and 12 Combined in the US, 1998-2014

Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Miech, R. A., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (February 2015). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use: 1975-2014: Overview, key findings on adolescent drug use. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, Table 3, p. 57.
http://monitoringthefuture.org...

5. Current Marijuana and Other Illegal Substance Use and Trends in the US

"The estimated 27.1 million people aged 12 or older who were current illicit drug users in 2015 (Figure 1) represent 10.1 percent of the population aged 12 or older (Figure 2). Stated another way, 1 in 10 individuals aged 12 or older in the United States used illicit drugs in the past month. Approximately 2.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in 2015 were current users of illicit drugs, which represents 8.8 percent of adolescents. Approximately 1 in 5 young adults aged 18 to 25 (22.3 percent) were current users of illicit drugs in 2015. This percentage corresponds to about 7.8 million young adults in 2015 who were current users of illicit drugs. In 2015, 8.2 percent of adults aged 26 or older were current users of illicit drugs, or about 17.1 million adults in this age group.
"Marijuana Use
"As noted in the illicit drug use section, an estimated 22.2 million Americans aged 12 or older in 2015 were current users of marijuana (Figure 1). This number of past month marijuana users corresponds to 8.3 percent of the population aged 12 or older (Figure 3). The percentage of people aged 12 or older who were current marijuana users in 2015 was similar to the percentage in 2014, but it was higher than the percentages from 2002 to 2013. This increase in marijuana use among people aged 12 or older reflects the increase in marijuana use by adults aged 26 or older and, to a lesser extent, increases in marijuana use among young adults aged 18 to 25."

Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 16-4984, NSDUH Series H-51). Page 7. Retrieved from
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6. How Federal Surveys Estimate the Prevalence Of Substance Use Disorders

"Substance use disorders (SUDs) represent clinically significant impairment caused by the recurrent use of alcohol or other drugs (or both), including health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home. NSDUH includes a series of questions to estimate the percentage of the population aged 12 or older who had SUDs in the past 12 months. Respondents were asked questions about SUDs if they previously reported use in the past 12 months of alcohol or illicit drugs. Illicit drugs include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, methamphetamine, and the misuse of prescription psychotherapeutic drugs (i.e., pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives). These SUD questions classify people as having an SUD in the past 12 months and are based on criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV).30,31
"Because of changes that were described previously to the questions for the use of hallucinogens, inhalants, and methamphetamine and the misuse of prescription drugs, the sets of respondents who were asked the SUD questions for those drugs in 2015 could have differed from the corresponding sets of respondents who were asked these SUD questions in prior years. Consequently, the 2015 SUD estimates for those drugs are not comparable with the estimates from prior years. Also, questions were added in 2015 about SUD symptoms that respondents attributed specifically to their use of methamphetamine; prior to 2015, past year methamphetamine users were asked about SUD symptoms for the misuse of prescription stimulants. In addition, these changes are assumed to have affected the comparability of the overall SUD measures in 2015 with those prior to 2015 for illicit drugs and for any substance (i.e., illicit drugs or alcohol). Thus for these measures, the 2015 estimates are not compared with estimates from prior years. Because the questions did not change for alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, estimates of SUDs for these substances in 2015 are assumed to have remained comparable with estimates from earlier years."

Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 16-4984, NSDUH Series H-51). Pages 20-21. Retrieved from
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7. Estimated Prevalence of Past-Month Substance Use in US by Those Aged 12 and Older

In 2015, among people aged 12 and older in the United States:
An estimated 27,080,000 people were past-month users of any illicit drug.
An estimated 22,226,000 people were past-month users of marijuana or hashish.
An estimated 9,273,000 people were past-month users of any illicit drug other than marijuana or hashish.
An estimated 63,959,000 people were past-month users of tobacco.
An estimated 138,322,000 people were past-month alcohol users, of whom 17,326,000 were "heavy" alcohol users (heavy alcohol use is defined as binge drinking on the same occasion on each of five or more days in the past 30 days; binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks (for males) or four or more drinks (for females) on the same occasion on at least one day in the past 30 days).

Click here for complete datatable of Estimated Prevalence of Past-Month Substance Use in US by Those Aged 12 and Older (Numbers In Thousands)

Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD, Tables 1.1A and 2.1A.
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/si...
Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2015). 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD, Tables 1.1A and 2.1A.
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/si...
Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2014). 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD, Tables 1.1A and 2.1A.
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/si...
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013, Tables 1.1A and 2.1A.
Report: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
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Illicit Drugs: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Alcohol and Tobacco: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "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.
Report: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Illicit Drugs: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Alcohol & Tobacco: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2011). "Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Volume I. Summary of National Findings" (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-38A, HHS Publication No. SMA 10-4586 Findings). Rockville, MD.
Report: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Illicit Drugs: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Alcohol/Tobacco: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2010). "Results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Volume I. Summary of National Findings" (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-38A, HHS Publication No. SMA 10-4586 Findings). Rockville, MD.
Report: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Illicit Drugs: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Alcohol/Tobacco: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2009). Results from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-36, HHS Publication No. SMA 09-4434). Rockville, MD.
Report: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Illicit Drugs: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Alcohol/Tobacco: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2008). Results from the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-34, DHHS Publication No. SMA 08-4343). Rockville, MD.
Report: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Illicit Drugs: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Alcohol/Tobacco: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2007). Results from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-32, DHHS Publication No. SMA 07-4293). Rockville, MD.
Report: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Illicit Drugs: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Alcohol/Tobacco: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). Results from the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-30, DHHS Publication No. SMA 06-4194). Rockville, MD.
Report: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Illicit Drugs: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Alcohol/Tobacco: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2005). Results from the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-28, DHHS Publication No. SMA 05-4062). Rockville, MD.
Report: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Illicit Drugs: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Alcohol/Tobacco: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2004). Results from the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-25, DHHS Publication No. SMA 04-3964). Rockville, MD.
Report: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Illicit Drugs: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...
Alcohol/Tobacco: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data...

8. Prevalence of Drug Use Worldwide

"It is estimated that 1 in 20 adults, or a quarter of a billion people aged 15-64 years, used at least one drug in 2014. Although trends in drug use vary across regions, as does updated reporting on data, the extent of drug use among the world population has remained stable over the past four years. Almost 12 per cent of the total number of people who use drugs, or over 29 million people, are estimated to suffer from drug use disorders."

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2016 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.16.XI.7), p. 1.
http://www.unodc.org/wdr2016/
http://www.unodc.org/doc/wdr20...

9. Estimated Prevalence of and Attitudes Toward Marijuana Use Among Youth in the US, 2015

"Marijuana, the most widely used of the illicit drugs, did not show any significant change in annual prevalence this year in any of the three grades, nor in the three grades combined. After rising for several years, the annual prevalence of marijuana has more or less leveled out since about 2010.
"This year, 12 percent of 8th ­graders, 25 percent of 10th ­graders and 35 percent of 12th ­graders reported using marijuana at least once in the prior 12 months. Of more importance, perhaps, is their daily or near-­daily marijuana use (defined as smoking marijuana on 20 or more occasions in the past 30 days). These rates stand at 1.1 percent, 3.0 percent and 6.0 percent in 8th, 10th and 12th grades, respectively.
"In other words, one in every 16 or 17 high school seniors is smoking marijuana daily or near daily. These rates have changed rather little since 2010, but are from three-­to-­six times higher than they were at their low point in 1991.
"'The proportion of our young people smoking marijuana this frequently remains a matter of concern,' Johnston said.[2],[3]
"He notes that the percent of students who see regular marijuana use as carrying a great risk of harm has declined substantially since about 2005, and is still declining. Over the past 10 years, the percent seeing a great risk in regular marijuana use has fallen among 8th ­graders from 74 percent to 58 percent, among 10th ­graders from 66 percent to 43 percent and among 12th­graders from 58 percent to 32 percent."

Johnston, L. D., O'Malley, P. M., Miech, R.A., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (December 16, 2015). "Use of ecstasy, heroin, synthetic marijuana, alcohol, cigarettes declined among US teens in 2015," University of Michigan News Service: Ann Arbor, MI, p. 5.
http://www.monitoringthefuture...

10. Estimated Age of Initiation of Substance Use By People 12 Or Older In The US

"Figure 10 provides an overview of the numbers of past year initiates in 2015 for the majority of substances that are discussed in this section of the report. The illicit drugs with the largest number of recent initiates in 2015 were marijuana (2.6 million new users), prescription pain relievers (2.1 million new misusers), prescription tranquilizers (1.4 million new misusers), prescription stimulants (1.3 million new misusers), and hallucinogens (1.2 million new users). In addition, there were 4.8 million new users of alcohol, 2.0 million people who tried a cigarette for the first time in the past year, and 1.3 million people who first used smokeless tobacco in the past year.35
"Figure 11 provides an overview of the average age at first use (or first misuse for prescription drugs) among recent initiates aged 12 to 49. For many substances, the average age at initiation in 2015 was under the age of 20, with average ages of 17.4 years for inhalants, 17.6 years for alcohol, 17.9 years for cigarettes, 19.0 years for marijuana, and 19.6 years for any hallucinogen and for LSD. However, there were some substances with older average initiation ages, such as heroin (25.4 years) and methamphetamine (25.8 years). The average ages at initiation for the misuse of prescription psychotherapeutics were in the early to late 20s (22.3 years for prescription stimulants, 25.8 years for prescription pain relievers, 25.9 years for prescription tranquilizers, and 28.3 years for prescription sedatives)."

Lipari, R. N., Williams, M. R., Copello, E. A. P., & Pemberton, M. R. (2016, October). Risk and protective factors and estimates of substance use initiation: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. NSDUH Data Review, p. 1. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/
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