The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health is the most recent big-picture study about drug use in America and provides a revealing look at popular drugs of choice and demographics related to drug users. It also analyzes alcohol use in the U.S. Here are some of the key takeaways from this comprehensive report.
Illicit Drug Use Is Rampant Across All Major Age Groups
More than 27 million people age 12 or older in the U.S. are users of illicit drugs. But what’s even more staggering is that 10 percent of the U.S. population that is 12 years or older admitted to using illicit drugs in the month prior to the survey. (1)
Worse yet, more than two million adolescents age 12 to 17 use illicit drugs in the U.S., and nearly 23 percent of young adults in the 18 to 25 age group were drug users. An additional 17 million adults 26 or older used illicit drugs within the past year.
What this tells us is that illegal drug use is growing in all segments of the U.S. population, a terrifying prospect if even a quarter of these people turn out to be addicts who require a comprehensive drug treatment program in the future.
Marijuana Remains a Preferred Drug of Choice
Not surprisingly, marijuana remains a popular drug of choice, with an estimated 22 million people in the country using the drug on a regular basis. In fact, marijuana use has trended upward from 2002 to 2013, with a brief downturn in 2014 that was followed by another spike in 2015.
Undoubtedly, part of the reason marijuana use is steadily increasing is that many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use for recreational purposes or for medicinal reasons.
The negative perception of marijuana as an illicit drug has markedly decreased over the past decade.
Many people who smoke marijuana don’t even refer to it as a drug because marijuana is not considered to be a narcotic that is as dangerous or addictive as cocaine, heroin or prescription painkillers such as opioids.
As a result, marijuana use has become much more socially acceptable among most age groups, an activity that is considered as normal as smoking a cigarette.
Prescription Pain Reliever Misuse Is On the Rise
The existing opioid crises in states such as Ohio have publicized the abuse of prescription pain relievers. And the 2015 survey confirmed this trend, with nearly four million people 12 or older abusing prescription pain pills.
Part of what is driving opioid abuse in many states is the fact that pharmaceutical companies have downplayed or mislead users about the highly-addictive nature of these drugs. In some instances, drug companies have incentivized their representatives to wine and dine physicians in an effort to persuade them to prescribe painkillers to their patients to drive up profits. (2)
But as millions of people have become addicted to these pain killers, drug companies have continued to insist that the drugs are safe if used in moderation.
Binge-Drinking Is a Huge Problem
The survey also found that binge-drinking has become a huge problem for a large segment of the population.
For example, nearly 67 million people age 12 or older in the U.S. admitted to binge-drinking (5 or more drinks at one time for males, 4 or more drinks at one time for females) in the previous month, and 17 million admitted to heavy alcohol use during that same time period.
Binge-drinking often occurs at house parties, raves, and clubs in which drinking heavily is part of the social contract participants make when they agree to attend. In addition, a party-all-the-time culture has taken over many college campuses in the U.S., leading to incidents of high alcohol use, violence, and sexual assaults.
But of even greater concern is that a staggering 138 million people in the U.S. age 12 or older admitted to current alcohol use in the month prior to the survey.
Underage alcohol use is a persistent problem despite the fact that every state restricts alcohol consumption to people who are 21 or older.
The Need For Long-Term Solutions
Drug use in America is trending upward, and illicit use is starting at a much younger age than in the past.
Some of the respondents in the 2015 survey may never turn into addicts, but many will, and they will need access to drug detox facilities that can also provide in-house and outpatient counseling to ensure long-term recovery.
About Summit Behavioral Health (NJ, MA, PA)
Summit Behavioral Health offers both inpatient and outpatient programs to help people overcome drug addiction and co-occurring disorders. Our programs are medically supervised and designed to fit your specific needs and goals. Call our behavioral health professionals today at 1-855-855-9199 to speak to a substance abuse expert about your treatment options.
Other Resources for you:
Learn more about Greater Threat To Public Health In America in our previous blog post
Read our blog post: The History Of Painkillers In America
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