Although progress has been made in substantially lowering rates of abuse of some substances, the use of mind- and behavior-altering substances continues to take a major toll on the health of individuals, families, and communities nationwide. Substance abuse—involving drugs, alcohol, or both—is associated with a range of destructive social conditions, including family disruptions, financial problems, lost productivity, failure in school, injuries, domestic violence, child abuse, and crime. Moreover, both social attitudes and legal responses to the consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs make substance abuse one of the most complex public health issues.

  • On an average day in 2006, youth used the following substances for the first time: 7,970 drank alcohol; 4,348 used an illicit drug; 4,082 smoked cigarettes; and 2,517 used pain relievers non-medically.

  • Daily marijuana use increased among students in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades from 2009 to 2010. Among 12th graders, marijuana use was at its highest point since the early 1980s, with 6.1 percent of all high school seniors reporting marijuana use.

  • Prescription medications, such as painkillers, and over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are some of the most abused drugs among high school seniors.

  • 13.8% of students in 8th grade, 28.9% of students in 10th grade, and 41.2% of students in 12th grade consumed at least 1 drink in the past 30 days. Youth who used alcohol in the past month drank an average of 4.7 drinks per day on the days they drank.

  • In 2009, people age 18 to 25 had the highest rates of current drug use of any age group, at 21.2%. This is largely driven by the widespread use of marijuana among this age group (18.1%).

  • 41.7% of young adults age 18 to 25, 36.3% of adults age 26 to 34, and 19.2% of people age 35 or older reported binge drinking in 2009.

  • Adults dependent on alcohol report higher rates of illicit drug use and nonmedical use of prescription drugs compared with the general population.



Substance Abuse