Illicit Drug Use Holds Steady, Report Says (
September 4, 2008
News Summary

The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health
found little overall change in past-month use of illicit drugs in 2007,
although use of cocaine and methamphetamine did decline, the Associated Press reported Sept. 4.

Use of illicit drugs dipped from 8.3 percent of Americans ages 12
and older in 2006 to 8 percent in 2007. Adolescent drug use fell from
9.8 percent in 2006 to 9.5 percent in 2007, the survey found, but
past-month use of illicit drugs among those ages 50-59 rose from 4.3
percent to 5 percent. Marijuana was by far the most popular illicit
drug among all age groups.

The findings are based on interviews with more than 67,000 Americans.

The federal Office of National Drug Control Policy credited the
decline in cocaine and methamphetamine use to decreased supply of these
drugs, resulting in higher prices and reduced purity. Critics disputed
government claims of progress in fighting drug abuse, however, and a
recent World Health Organization (WHO) report concluded that use of
cocaine, marijuana and other illicit drugs is a bigger problem in the
U.S. than in any of the other 16 nations studied.

"Use of marijuana and other drugs naturally fluctuates and if you
look at long-term trends, current rates are smack in the middle of the
range they’ve been in for decades," said Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana
Policy Project. "There is simply no evidence that current policies …
have made any difference."

"The use of drugs seems to be a feature of more affluent countries,"
noted the WHO report. "The U.S., which has been driving much of the
world’s drug research and drug policy agenda, stands out with higher
levels of alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis, despite punitive illegal drug
policies as well as a higher minimum legal alcohol drinking age than
many comparable developed countries."

More information: SAMHSA news release