Use of Marijuana, Meth, Hallucinogens Up in New SAMHSA Survey

Damian McNamara

August 22, 2019

Almost 1 million more Americans ages 12 or older reported using marijuana in their lifetime in 2018 than in 2017, according to new data from a national survey.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Report notes that approximately 1.2 million more people reported use of hallucinogens, which include LSD, PCP, and Ecstasy, compared with 2017. In addition, about 170,000 more people used methamphetamine.

Not all substance use increased year over year. For example, 187,000 fewer adolescent and adult Americans reported using heroin last year. At the same time, cocaine use decreased slightly, with about 8000 fewer people reporting its use in the annual report.

Furthermore, nearly 3 million fewer Americans said they smoked cigarettes daily in 2018 vs 2017. The report contains annual figures on many substances since 2002, and the decrease in daily cigarette use reflects an overall decrease. Between 2002 and 2018, for example, daily cigarette use dropped by more than 10 million. 

Alcohol use has trended in the opposite direction overall. In 2018, 25.8 million more adolescents and adults reported alcohol use compared with 2002. From 2017 to 2018, the figure jumped by 1.2 million.

The survey findings were published online August 20 on SAMHSA's website.

Specialty Treatment, Opioid Use

In addition to the use of illegal drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco in the US, the survey measures mental disorders, treatment and co-occurring substance use, and mental disorders at the national, state, and sub-state levels.

The number of adolescents ages 12 to 17 who received specialty treatment for illicit drug use in the previous year increased by 24,000 from 2017 to 2018. At the same time, 306,000 fewer adults sought treatment in the same setting.

The trends reverse when it comes to individuals seeking treatment at a specialty facility for alcohol use. The survey showed that 13,000 fewer adolescents and 38,000 more adults sought specialty care.

Almost 1.2 million fewer survey respondents ages 12 years or older reported misuse of opioids in the past year in the 2018 survey compared with 2017.

The rate of misuse of opioids dropped for both men and women and among white, Hispanic, black/African American, Asian, and multiracial respondents. In contrast, more respondents identifying as American Indian/Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander misused opioids in 2018 vs 2017.

More details from the 2018 survey, including figures on daily substance use, past year initiation of use by age group, and perceptions of risk among various substances, are available on SAMHSA's website.

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