About one in 10 people used an illicit drug last year, with marijuana and prescription pharmaceuticals being the most common, according to new federal data. The data was released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It found that about 10 percent of Americans in 2015 used an illicit drug every month. That percentage is higher than in every year from 2002 to 2014, the agency said. In 2014, for instance, the percentage of illicit drug use was 9.4 percent and in 2002 it was 8.3 percent.
The most common drug continued to be marijuana, where the percentage of marijuana users in 2015 who were 12 years or older was 8.4 percent of the population, greater than the 2014 figure of 7.5 percent. Abuse of prescription painkillers continued to be the second most illicit product used by Americans. However, use of painkillers did not change from 2013 to 2014 at 2.5 percent of Americans 12 years or older. That percentage is only a slight decrease from the 2.7 percent of users in 2002, the agency said. Prescription drug and heroin abuse has received a lot of attention from lawmakers in recent years, especially from lawmakers in districts and states hit hard by what health experts call an epidemic.
Rounding out the top five illicit substances were tranquilizers, stimulants and cocaine. Heroin came in eighth on the list at 0.3 percent, the same percentage of use in 2013 and 2014. The drug has received a lot of attention recently as prescription drug abusers often gravitate toward heroin since it is cheaper. The data is based on an annual survey of U.S. residents aged 12 years or older. Nearly 68,000 responses to the survey were obtained by the agency.
Reducing the demand for drugs in the United States is the underlying theme that drives President Obama’s Strategy to reduce the shared threat of drug use and its consequences. By aggressively working to reduce U.S. drug consumption by preventing drug use before it begins and helping Americans suffering from addiction enter treatment, this will not only improve public health and safety in the United States, but we also deprive violent Transnational Criminal Organizations of an important source of income.
The Obama Administration’s budgetary commitment to further reduce domestic drug use is real and significant. The President’s National Drug Control Strategy contains specific actions and targets to reduce drug use. Last Fiscal Year alone, the United States spent over $10 billion to support drug demand reduction programs, compared to $2.4 billion for international drug control programs. The Obama Administration provided over $88 million to prevent drug use before it begins as part of the U.S. Drug Free Communities Support Program. These resources are supporting community-based coalitions in over 1,750 communities across the United States to prevent youth substance use.
The Obama Administration is also the first in history to establish an Office on Recovery at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The office works to advance policies and programs that help provide support to millions of Americans who are in successful recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.While still too high, the rate of overall drug use in America has dropped by roughly one-third over the past three decades. More recently, cocaine use has dropped by 43 percent, and meth use in America has been cut by half.