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 (326 Responses)
  1. Gintoorxmx

    nyxseqr [url=http://www.guccisalejp2013.com/]グッチ アウトレット[/url] aoabcjq otuhqap [url=http://www.guccisalejp2013.com/]グッチ 財布 店舗[/url] yazyanc mgstvns [url=http://www.guccisalejp2013.com/]グッチ アウトレット[/url] smjqtav sveeqwx http://www.guccisalejp2013.com/ tbtevdr ebpphhf [url=http://www.gucciseikatu.com/]gucci アウトレット[/url] ijujibv soumeuq [url=http://www.gucciseikatu.com/]グッチ アウトレット[/url] gbanpak ywcpuoc [url=http://www.gucciseikatu.com/]gucci 財布[/url] xbighfz iffjadp http://www.gucciseikatu.com/ rlntzeq zmkfgta [url=http://www.guccisupport.com/]gucci 財布[/url] eejsmpj vqkwuyh [url=http://www.guccisupport.com/]gucci 財布[/url] shdwxph ikhaepa [url=http://www.guccisupport.com/]グッチ 財布[/url] oylbzzt wkqpcxk http://www.guccisupport.com/ bmyyrkg ualivtq [url=http://www.cheapguccijp2013.com/]グッチ 財布[/url] quuwtsj ekhraav [url=http://www.cheapguccijp2013.com/]グッチ アウトレット[/url] ktejhdh wbveobd [url=http://www.cheapguccijp2013.com/]グッチ アウトレット[/url] vrtrmtb hprdmjp http://www.cheapguccijp2013.com/ ovtunir fgyvwce [url=http://www.gucciluxuryjp.com/]グッチ 財布[/url] aqwqwie qomxkiq [url=http://www.gucciluxuryjp.com/]グッチ アウトレット[/url] zlxqhcf bhjzqqg [url=http://www.gucciluxuryjp.com/]グッチ 長財布[/url] biquioo nhptcki http://www.gucciluxuryjp.com/ atfkpvd

    April 10, 2013 at 00:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. John

    I just want to clear something up real quick about an error in this article. Cannabis is not a drug. Its a plant. Get your facts straight.

    February 21, 2014 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jujubeans

      It contains THC, a drug.

      February 25, 2014 at 17:52 | Report abuse |
  3. recoveryguru.org

    I wanted to thank you for this article; it was very informative! I have a drug recovery blog and website and always like to add good information as this article provides. Thanks !

    February 25, 2014 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. .xdptglsfpogpsrgklldf,b,ds;alfmkankfnknvjjjf

    fad,flksdmkvmckmgksfdgkmfkmgikejkdfklhjieayjiop]d;\]hjlnfkgjklfjgklogkjlgkjo[zkokorso[o[krotuio06i040uglho6roui;rtkorhko[rkoopuo[p 66ioy0

    February 26, 2014 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Katya

    Every year there are more and more people taking drugs, it scares. Watch Doctor Life Reality TV and u will see how hard teh process of getting read of drug abuse is. Maybe after watching the videos some people will think twice before they try drugs!

    March 28, 2014 at 01:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Name* mom in crisis

    The day they legalized marijuana in colorado was one of the darkest days of my life. We had been struggling with my son's addiction issues and fighting for his life when all hell broke loose. He said if the state said there was nothing wrong with it, why couldn't he do what he wanted to. He was only 14 at the time. Unfortunately, they also said "marijuana" is not a gateway drug, but when the high doesn't stick around- many people turn to harder drugs. And what about the fact that the regulations on a can of green beans are more stringent than they are for products with thc? Do people understand that they will have stoned individuals driving, teaching, caring for the children of this country Thc stays in your system longer than the "high" sticks around. How about the fact that there is 4 times the amount of tar deposited in your lungs using marijuana? Is this worth having the income tax? Sorry for the ranting, but if people knew the hell I am going through in keeping my son alive, safe, and growing into a productive citizen- maybe they would not be so keen on legalizing a substance that will hurt our country in the long run.

    July 28, 2014 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Single father

    I apologize ahead of time for my weak writing skills. I have been a single parent for 17 years. I have six children.two of which are heavy drug users.it really saddens me how hard it is to find information even with the Internet on the REASON people get started on drugs and WHY they continue to use them.I personally have been looking into this for years. It has been very hard sifting through the 70+ years of studies and research, Not to mention the hundreds of hours spent in present dialogue with addicts. The best information I've come up with this far, is that whenever a persons unresolved past fixated point or points of pain are denied and not dealt with it leads to an unpredictable destructive life. I can only hope that our society will put forth more effort in educating all of us on how to Face the real issues that create the self-destructive behavior. I feel if we use the therapy for the poor behavior were choosing as an avenue to Focus on the unresolved issue there would be a lot more recovery success. That being said I will continue to Support my two drug ridden children to recovery to the best of my ability. If anyone has any other resources I could use please mention them in your post thank you for any and all the support.

    February 14, 2015 at 07:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. John Doe

    9%??....9% of the population uses drugs including marijuana? Are you people retarded? I'm gonna guess the real number is closer to 50% ...1.5 million people use cocaine??? Look up how much cocaine enters the country and how much it costs, and tell me how that's possible. Less than half of 1% are using coke?? Must be doing a LOT of it...these statistics are false. Period. These "stats" try to make drug use seem much less socially acceptable than it has and will always be. Prohibition has never helped addiction, if you don't get that you are an idiot. Wake up slaves. I'm gonna guess that there are close to 1.5 million cocaine users in NYC alone. Idiots.

    March 12, 2015 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Cristina

    I have discovered a new drug test. My aunt is using them with my cousin. I would want to know if you have any information about them? My aunt asked me to ask in internet to other people. By the time she is happy with them but she would want to know. The test are from http://www.doctortest.us , thank you so much!

    May 6, 2015 at 09:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Demarcus Hannan

    you writing this write-up and also the rest


    October 23, 2016 at 03:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. amcyr

    I disagree, read that

    April 19, 2017 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. love bangle pour homme r茅plique

    Le modèle anglais est entrain de se casser la gueule; trop d’extrémismes ! La France a préféré la laïcité afin de permettre aux multiples cultes qu’elle héberge de coexister. J’y vis et si je souhaite me marier on n’exigera pas de moi de me convertir ! je m’y sens libre et mes droits respectés§
    love bangle pour homme r茅plique

    July 20, 2017 at 23:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. パネライ スーパーコピー 口コミ

    ウブロコピー代引き、ウブロコピー 時計通販、スーパーコピー、

    September 19, 2018 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. スーパーコピー 売る 2ch

    独特の質シャネルシャネルバッグコピー4906 ゴールド金具カーフショルダーバッグ36cm

    April 20, 2019 at 07:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. look at these guys electric repair

    Thanks for the good writeup. It in reality was a entertainment account it. Look advanced to more introduced agreeable from you! By the way, how can we keep in touch?


    December 1, 2020 at 19:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. more electric repair

    Valuable info. Lucky me I found your website by chance, and I'm stunned why this coincidence didn't happened in advance! I bookmarked it.


    December 3, 2020 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. doaxttrmuasq

    Психотерапевт по скайпу. batmanapollo.ru психолог онлайн цена.

    December 5, 2020 at 21:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. detectives privados boadilla del monte

    detectives privados merida


    December 11, 2020 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. detectives privados formentera

    detectives privados pinto


    December 12, 2020 at 01:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. iwemewenubup

    http://mewkid.net/when-is-xuxlya2/ – Amoxicillin 500mg Capsules Amoxicillin On Line tfu.tvdl.thechart.blogs.cnn.com.ere.rr http://mewkid.net/when-is-xuxlya2/

    December 15, 2020 at 12:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. ebotiaya

    http://mewkid.net/when-is-xuxlya2/ – Buy Amoxicillin Online Without Prescription Amoxicillin 500mg Capsules ekp.stva.thechart.blogs.cnn.com.qdr.ur http://mewkid.net/when-is-xuxlya2/

    December 15, 2020 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Michale Dolph

    Have you ever considered about adding a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything. But think about if you added some great graphics or videos to give your posts more, "pop"! Your content is excellent but with pics and clips, this website could definitely be one of the greatest in its niche. Very good blog!


    December 19, 2020 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Chadwick Ahern

    The ideas you provided here are extremely precious. It turned out this kind of pleasurable surprise to acquire that expecting me when I woke up today. They can be constantly to the stage and easy to be aware of. Thanks quite a bit with the valuable ideas you’ve got shared below.


    December 20, 2020 at 16:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Maryln Jentzen

    I am really loving the theme/design of your weblog. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility issues? A few of my blog readers have complained about my blog not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Chrome. Do you have any suggestions to help fix this problem?


    December 25, 2020 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. make money online today

    Earn 100 commissions of up to 900+ dollars DAILY. 90 Second Set Up – Beta Tested Proven 24-7 AUTOPILOT Income – 100 New Income System Never Before Seen. More details: https://bit.ly/2YfQFcC


    December 26, 2020 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. earn passive income in 2021

    Imagine getting hundreds of people flooding your inbox on autopilot, 24/7 with 100 percent commissions of $500 a day. This is made thanks to traffic conveyed on autopilot over various “viral tiers”. More details: https://bit.ly/2YfQFcC


    December 26, 2020 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Anderson Curto

    I reckon something really interesting about your weblog so I saved to fav.


    January 1, 2021 at 01:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Harold Gotsche

    I've read some just right stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much attempt you set to create the sort of great informative site.


    January 10, 2021 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Jacqueline Hegwer

    Just thought I’d leave a comment to state how much I enjoyed reading this read. Quality blog!


    January 11, 2021 at 23:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Leroy Patriarco

    Hello there, You have done a great job. I will definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am sure they'll be benefited from this site.


    January 15, 2021 at 17:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Claris Subasic


    January 17, 2021 at 21:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Randall Graeter

    Wow! This could be one particular of the most beneficial blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Magnificent. I'm also an expert in this topic therefore I can understand your hard work.


    January 21, 2021 at 05:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Andres Katis

    Thank you for sharing excellent informations. Your site is very cool. I'm impressed by the details that you've on this blog. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for extra articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found simply the info I already searched all over the place and simply couldn't come across. What an ideal site.


    January 21, 2021 at 07:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Nolan Prete

    Do you want get more social network traffic, likes, and retweets? SMM Supreme uses his own panel system to generate social media traffic to any website. Best Quality-Price Ratio on the market with 714928 orders until now. – Facebook Fan Page Likes: $4.50/1000 – Instagram Followers: $0.78/1000 – Youtube Views: $1.62/1000 – Twitter followers: $2.10/1000 – Paypal Deposit – Payeer Deposit – Automatic order processing – 30 minutes to send to customers


    January 22, 2021 at 21:38 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4

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.