Drug abuse trends in the U.S.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (drugabuse.gov), illegal drug use in America is increasing. They report that in 2012, “an estimated 23.9 million Americans aged 12 or older—or 9.2 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication (such as a pain reliever, stimulant, or tranquilizer) in the past month. This is up from 8.3 percent in 2002. The increase mostly reflects a recent rise in the use of marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug.”
The institute further reports that marijuana use has increased since 2007 indicating that in 2012, there were 18.9 million current (past-month) users – about 7.3% of people aged 12 or older – compared to 14.4 million (5.8%) in 2007.
However, it is interesting to note that the use of other illegal drugs declined over the past decade or so. Again, referencing the info reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the use of psychotherapeutic prescription drugs non-medically (without a prescription or in a manner or for a purpose not prescribed), hallucinogens (a category that includes Ecstasy and LSD), cocaine, and methamphetamine has remained steady or even declined.
Perhaps marijuana use is on the rise the most due to the fact that more than half of new illicit drug users begin with marijuana. Also of interest is that drug use is highest among people in their late teens and twenties. In 2012, 23.9 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds reported using an illicit drug in the past month although drug use is increasing among people in their fifties. This trend is, at least in part, due to the aging of the baby boomers, whose rates of illicit drug use have historically been higher (drugabuse.gov).