Although an estimated 8 percent of Americans aged 12 and older reported
current use of an illicit drug, usage rates varied greatly from one state to
another, and even from one county to another, according to new annual survey
data from government researchers.
A June report on the survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration on the illicit use of drugs and alcohol across the
United States revealed that the regions with the highest rates of drug use
were in Alaska, California, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. The District of
Columbia also had a high rate (see
When researchers looked at rates of specific drug use, they found that the
highest rates of current marijuana use were reported in western Montana, with
12 percent of residents reporting current use, while the lowest rates occurred
in several regions: central Utah, the Four Corners region (where Colorado, New
Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet), and San Juan, Puerto Rico, where an estimated
3 percent of residents reported current marijuana use.
The data were compiled from the combined 2004-2006 National Surveys on Drug
Use and Health (NSDUH), which includes data on drug and alcohol use from
203,870 respondents from a nationally representative sample aged 12 and older.
The data, featuring representative samples from all states, the District of
Columbia, and Puerto Rico, are then extrapolated to population estimates.
The NSDUH is conducted annually by researchers from Research Triangle
Institute in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
From 2004 to 2006, an estimated 4.9 percent of Americans aged 12 and older
reported using pain relievers illicitly in the past year. Estimates ranged
from 2.5 percent in Washington, D.C., to almost 8 percent in the panhandle of
Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in the United States, with an
estimated half of Americans 12 or older currently using alcohol. According to
the data, the lowest rate of alcohol use was in Utah County, Utah (21
percent), and the highest was found in one section of Washington, D.C. (78.7
percent). Reports of binge drinking (defined as having five or more drinks on
the same occasion) was lowest in Utah, and underage drinking was highest in
Current tobacco use was highest in West Virginia's south central region (43
percent) and lowest in Utah (17.3 percent).
"Substate Estimates From the 2004-2006 National Surveys on
Drug Use and Health" is posted at<oas.samhsa.gov/substate2k8/substate.pdf>.▪