Study: 22 million Americans use illegal drugs
Marijuana is the most common drug for first-time users, according to the study.
September 8th, 2011
06:10 PM ET

Study: 22 million Americans use illegal drugs

More than 22 million Americans age 12 and older - nearly 9% of the U.S. population - use illegal drugs, according to the government’s 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The overall rate of drug use is only slightly higher than the 2009 study but nearly a percentage point above the 2008 survey.

“I am encouraged there were no significant increases in drug use over the past year,” Gil Kerlikowske, the U.S. director of national drug control policy, said in a statement. “However, today’s survey also shows that drug use in America remains at unacceptable levels.”

Marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants and some prescription drugs used for non-medical purposes were counted in the survey. Marijuana was the most commonly used drug, with more than 17 million users in 2010, 3 million more than in the 2007 survey.

In 2010, 7 million people used psychotherapeutic drugs (including stimulants, tranquilizers, painkillers and sedatives) for non-medical purposes, and 1.2 million people used hallucinogens, according to the study.  The numbers are similar to the past few years.

One and a half million people used cocaine, similar to recent years' study results but a drop of nearly 1 million from 2006.  Methamphetamine use dropped by more than half between 2006 and 2010, to only a 10th of 1% of the population, according to the survey.

The number of young people using drugs has continued to increase. In 2008, 19.6% of 18- to 25-year-olds used drugs, but in 2010’s survey, that number had climbed to 21.5%. The increase is largely due to marijuana use, according to the study.

Drug use among 12- to 17-year-olds stayed steady in the survey, at about 10%.

States allowing medical marijuana could be fueling the increases in drug use, Kerlikowske said.

“Emerging research reveals potential links between state laws permitting access to smoked medical marijuana and higher rates of marijuana use,” his statement said. “I urge every family - but particularly those in states targeted by pro-drug political campaigns - to redouble their efforts to shield young people from serious harm by educating them about the real health and safety consequences caused by illegal drug use.”

Marijuana is the most common drug for first-time users, according to the study. Among people who started using drugs in the year before the survey, 62% said they first used marijuana, 26% first used prescription drugs like tranquilizers and stimulants, and 9% first used inhalants.

The age when people start using marijuana is going up.  The study found that in 2010, the average age of a first-time marijuana user was 18.4 years. In the 2002 study, it was 17 years old.

Nearly half of youths between 12 and 17 years old said it would be "fairly easy" or "very easy" to get marijuana, one in five said it would be easy to get cocaine, and one in 10 said it would be easy to get heroin, according to the study.

Alcohol use

About 131 million people 12 and older in the United States drink alcohol, according to the 2010 survey.  That’s roughly half the population and similar to the year prior.  Nearly a quarter of the population age 12 and older participated in what the study calls binge drinking, or having five or more drinks in the same occasion, at least once in the past month. Nearly 7% of the population reported binge drinking on five days in the month before the survey.

Ten million 12- to 20-year-olds drink, according to the survey, and 65% of those binge drink. These numbers represent a drop of about 2 percentage points each from the 2002 survey.

More than 11% of the population drove under the influence of alcohol in the year before the study. The number is a drop of about 3 percentage points from the 2002 study.

The most likely age group to drive after drinking was 21- to 25-year-olds, according to the study.

Tobacco use

Nearly 70 million Americans age 12 and over use tobacco, according to the study, more than a quarter of the population in that age group. The numbers represent a drop of about 3 percentage points from the 2002 survey.  In both studies, cigarette smoking made up the majority of the tobacco use, followed by cigars and smokeless tobacco. However, only cigarette use significantly declined during those years.

The use of tobacco by younger people has declined.  The 2002 study showed that about 15% of people age 12 to 17 used tobacco, while the 2010 numbers were closer to 11%.

Nearly 59% of new smokers in the 2010 survey were under 18 when they first started smoking.


More than 23 million Americans age 12 and older needed some sort of treatment for drug or alcohol use problems, according to the 2010 study. But only 2.6 million people got that treatment.  Of the people who didn’t get treatment, most indicated in the survey that they did not feel they need it.

Post by:
Filed under: Addiction • Alcohol • Marijuana

soundoff (374 Responses)
  1. tadalafil gel

    tadalis 20 mg https://tadalisxs.com/ tadalafil peptide

    February 10, 2021 at 23:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. lupus medication plaquenil

    erectile help https://plaquenilx.com/ 10 best erectile supplements

    February 11, 2021 at 00:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. chloroquine phosphate aralen

    what is chloroquine used for https://chloroquineorigin.com/ malaria drugs list

    February 11, 2021 at 00:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. where can i buy zithromax

    zytromax https://zithromaxes.com/ zithromax for urinary tract infections

    February 11, 2021 at 02:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Eddy Letrent

    Earn 500 a Day With Our Passive Income System Doing These 3 Steps – Step 1: Get our ready made niche websites, Step 2: Setup your Paypal account. Step 3: Run our Unlimited Traffic System from our Free 850 sources of traffic (Approximately 35000 views a day guaranteed). Then in few hours you will start receiving payments without do nothing! More info: https://www.k3reviews.com/2020/08/16/monster-mode-700k/


    February 13, 2021 at 03:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. 1000000GSA Backlinks

    High DA PA 50+ Do follow Forum Backlinks: https://www.seoclerk.com/Link-Building/836800/High-DA-PA-50-Do-follow-Forum-Backlinks


    February 16, 2021 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Profitable-Digital-Marketing Strategy-and-Plan

    Create a profitable digital marketing strategy and plan: https://www.seoclerk.com/Virtual-Assistant/840836/I-will-create-a-profitable-digital-marketing-strategy-and-plan


    February 16, 2021 at 21:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. vreyrolinomit

    I conceive this website holds some rattling superb info for everyone :D. "Believe those who are seeking the truth doubt those who find it." by Andre Gide.


    February 26, 2021 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. ClarkTauts

    jx21s 6gzvd 8aee

    March 1, 2021 at 01:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. ClarkTauts

    ms60a yl1sf fkbi

    March 1, 2021 at 08:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Donnie Oloughlin


    March 4, 2021 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Fermin Neri


    March 6, 2021 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. https://www.songmanhits.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    March 11, 2021 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. https://www.songmanhits.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    March 12, 2021 at 00:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. https://www.songmanhits.com

    I have never seen this view !


    March 13, 2021 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. dapoxetine

    dapoxetine 60mg buy priligy canada

    March 15, 2021 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. combigan

    brimonidine eye drops combigan eye drops

    March 15, 2021 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. avanafil

    avanafil stendra avanafil

    March 15, 2021 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. cyclomune

    cyclomune eye drops 1% cyclomune eye drop

    March 15, 2021 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. black casino chip

    caesars casino free slot games https://casinoxsonline.com/ red rock casino bingo

    March 23, 2021 at 07:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. all rival casino free play bonuses

    mbit casino no deposit bonus https://casinoxsbest.com/ blue chip casino located in michigan city, in

    March 24, 2021 at 08:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Malcom Lilley

    There is noticeably a bundle to know about this. I assume you made certain nice points in features also.


    March 25, 2021 at 07:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. casino supplys cards and chips

    blue chip casino michigan city hotel https://casinoxsplay.com/ primm valley casino promo codes

    March 26, 2021 at 20:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. hollywood casino free slots

    ruby slots casino bonuses https://casinoxsgames.com/ address for new york new york casino

    March 28, 2021 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. vista casino keno blackjack poker

    game share doubledown casino promo codes https://casinoxsbonus.com/ best casino buffet san diego

    March 29, 2021 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Billygem

    zithromax 500mg: cheap zithromax zithromax canadian pharmacy
    http://zithromaxproff.com/# buy zithromax online

    March 30, 2021 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Alfonso Zapata

    Very good post! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our website. Keep up the great writing.


    March 30, 2021 at 22:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. alprostadil ingredients 745-65-3

    how much is alprostadil https://alprostadildrugs.com/ alternative to alprostadil

    April 11, 2021 at 23:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. tadalafil 60 mg for sale

    tadalafil pills 20mg https://elitadalafill.com/ tadalafil 40 mg from india

    April 13, 2021 at 00:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. casino slot machines payout

    Thanks for a marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you can be a
    great author.I will make certain to bookmark your blog and will come back in the future.

    I want to encourage yourself to continue your great posts,
    have a nice day!

    April 14, 2021 at 04:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. homepage

    Hello there! This blog post couldn't be written any better!
    Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He continually kept preaching about this. I most certainly will forward
    this post to him. Pretty sure he'll have a good read.
    Thanks for sharing!

    April 14, 2021 at 06:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. vardenafil levitra

    vardenafil vs tadalafil https://vegavardenafil.com/ what is vardenafil used for

    April 14, 2021 at 08:26 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.