More People Getting High on Marijuana, Less on Meth
Fashions change, and so do illicit drug use preferences. Results of a recent national survey show that compared with 2007, about 3 million more people are getting high on marijuana, while the number of meth users declined by about 50 percent since 2006.
Overall illicit drug use is on the rise
Results of a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) national survey show the number of people using marijuana in the United States rose from 14.4 million in 2007 to 17.4 million in 2010. Overall, marijuana use among people aged 12 years and older climbed from 5.8% to 6.9%.
The survey (National Survey on Drug Use and Health,or NSDUH) includes information on about 67,500 individuals aged 12 years and older across the United States. The NSDUH is considered to be the country’s premier source of statistical data on substance abuse behavioral issues in the United States.
The uptick in marijuana use was the main reason for the overall increase in illicit drug use, which results show to include 22.6 million people age 12 years and older, a number higher than in 2008 but similar to last year’s level. Drug use among people aged 18 to 25 years climbed from 19.6% to 21.2% from 2008 to 2010.
Use of the highly addictive drug methamphetamine (meth, crystal) declined from 731,000 users in 2006 to 353,000 in 2010. While meth use has gone down, the number of meth incidents, including labs, dumpsites, and chemical seizures, rose from 2009, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. However, the number of reported meth incidents for 2010 (11,239) was far below the 18,091 figure from 2004.
The drug use numbers in other categories fell as well. Cocaine use dropped from 2.4 million in 2006 to 1.5 million in 2010, while alcohol use among underage drinkers (12-17 years) fell from 14.7% in 2009 to 13.6% in 2010. The number of people who turned to inhalants, hallucinogens, and nonmedical use of prescription drugs remained the same in 2009 and 2010.
According to a SAMHSA news release, Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy, noted that “emerging research reveals potential links between state laws permitting access to smoked medical marijuana and higher rates of marijuana use.” He urged families to “redouble their efforts to shield young people from serious harm by educating them about the real health and safety consequences caused by illegal drug use.”
Although marijuana use is against federal law, sixteen states plus the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana within specified guidelines. The latest state to legalize medical marijuana was Delaware on July 1, 2011.
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