Quality & Science

Increased marijuana, heroin use contribute to highest reported illicit drug use in more than a decade

by ASAM | September 10, 2015

Contact: Susan Awad, sawad@asam.org, 301-547-4103

CHEVY CHASE, MD, September 10, 2015 – Findings from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), released today, reveal the percentage of Americans aged 12 or older who used an illicit drug in 2014 was higher than in every year between 2002 and 2013, driven primarily by increases in marijuana use, sustained rates of nonmedical pain reliever use, and increases in heroin use.

“With now one in ten Americans reporting illicit drug use, it’s clear that we have much more to do to prevent drug use and treat the disease of addiction,” said Jeffrey Goldsmith, MD, President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). “As more and more states legalize marijuana and the opioid epidemic rages on, we must prioritize evidence-based prevention for our youth and access to high-quality treatment for all who struggle with a substance use disorder.”

Despite the overall increase in illicit drug use, illicit use among adolescents aged 12 to 17 and young adults aged 18 to 25 appeared to stabilize, with increases mainly seen among adults older than 25. The rise in overall marijuana use may reflect the increase in use by adults aged 26 and older and, to a lesser extent, increases in use among young adults aged 18 to 25; the percentage of adolescents aged 12 to 17 who were current marijuana users was similar to the percentages in most years between 2003 and 2013. Similarly, the rise in heroin use may reflect increases in use primarily among adults older than 25.

Alternatively, the data revealed declines in adolescent alcohol, tobacco and nonmedical prescription drug use. The percent of adolescents aged 12 to 20 who were current alcohol users and the percent of young adults aged 18 to 25 who were binge or heavy alcohol users were lower in 2014 than in any year between 2002 and 2012. From 2002 to 2014, the percentage of adolescents who were past month tobacco users declined roughly by half, and percentage of young adults who were current users of a tobacco product in 2014 was lower than the percentages in 2002 to 2013.

“While it’s encouraging to see progress being made in terms of lower alcohol and tobacco use among adolescents, the overall picture of drug use in the United States remains troubling,” said Dr. Goldsmith. “ASAM will continue to advocate for increased access to strategies that promote public health and evidence-based addiction treatment, and encourages our federal and state policymakers to take urgent action to increase prevention efforts, treatment access and recovery support services for all who need them.”

Click here to read the press release. 


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  1. Carmen M. Rentschler Mar 03, 2016 - 07:47 AM
    It is a totally tucked society that pays actors and athletes obscene amounts of money.
  2. Carmen M. Rentschler Mar 03, 2016 - 07:43 AM
    Bullshit, I have typed the wavy letters and numbers correctly.....You just don't like the truth.
  3. Carmen M. Rentschler Mar 03, 2016 - 07:41 AM
    Drug use is up because the US is becoming a third world country.  No jobs, no hope, racism, boredom, nothing to hope and work for when jobs go overseas, yet the price does not reflect the miserable amount of money it cost to manufacture in overseas sweathouses.  We are being ripped off big time by the richer by the day corporations; who according to the Supreme Court are now considered a "person"........Don't blame the Mexicans, they are only reacting to supply and demand of the Americans.  Nobody put a gun to anybody's head and forced them to become addicts.  Well, come to think of it;  metaphorically, the system is the gun....
  4. Carmen m. rentschler Mar 03, 2016 - 07:30 AM
    I am so glad that I am retired.  In America, drug addiction is on the rise because of depression, hoplessness, lack of opportunity, higher education is too expensive, rinkydink jobs that cannot sustain a family, the younger generations don't live in the same environment that I grew up in.  I truly feel bad for the younger generations here in America.  It infuriates me when I hear how much movie stars and athletes get paid.  People want work, work that can sustain a family.  Jobs have gone overseas.  Nevertheless, the product returns to the USA at the same price when it cost a fraction to manufacture.  This is a hopeless situation.  The rich get rich and the poor get poorer.  The middle class is shrinking, taxed to death.   Then people wonder why there is an increase in drug use?  Drugs make you escape, at least for awhile, from the boring reality that is all around us.  Don't talk to me about re-hab.  That's bullshit.  The factors that contribute to drug addiction are to blame.   Corporations are NOT people.  Can a corporation feel?  Can it have a soul?  Can a corporation love?  Can a corporation be considered a person?  Hell no.  What was the Supreme Court thinking?  Let's not forget about rampant high level corruption and corporate welfare.  Right now America sucks.  I hope Trump wins.  Professional politicians don't live in the real world, and would be homeless without they're sucking on the hind tit of government.
  5. Shaun Sep 25, 2015 - 10:42 AM
    And still you try to lump Marijuana with Heroin... Apples and Oranges. And you wonder why no one listens to you anymore.
  6. mike Sep 16, 2015 - 05:20 PM
    There's people that actually think Richard Nixon's $1 Trillion war on drugs is a good thing?  Crazy world.  This is a free country and people have the right to put in their own bodies what they choose.
  7. David Sep 16, 2015 - 04:27 PM

    This is no accident. Billions of dollars are at stake not only from street drugs but legal pharmaceuticals. People are being manipulated being taken advantage of via our addiction tendencies for profit. The feel good at the beginning of use is proportional to the level of addiction. Any one who really wants to quit using must do a 'do it yourself' sweat out program, its not easy, but it works and is 'cheap': Spend some hours in a dry sauna to flush out the toxins lodged in your body, it will then be 'easier' to stop using. It may take some days or weeks, but keep at it, you will feel them all again as they flush out. You can tell when you are done. 

  8. workandplayhard Sep 16, 2015 - 03:09 PM

    Drugs are great for stress relief and entertainment.  I don't know why so many people are against them.  If more education and safety precautions were available they would be a lot safer.   The stigma is hurting everyone.       

  9. Sam Sep 16, 2015 - 02:51 PM

    I see a lot of people who are are making arguments without forethought.

    1. Make drugs legal and regulate. This can be done and should be done. The war on drugs is a killer to all sides of the law.

    2. Enforce intoxication laws. If you get high and hurt someone, you pay the price. If you get high it is your own business and no one else until it effects them.

    3. Non violent drug offenses should be treated. We should have drug prison ( not in the classic sense but mandatory rehab) Take some of the dollars housing criminals and use that for rehab.

    4. Non addicts stop being so high and mighty. Former addicts stop with the high horse talk on your high horse. Nothing worse than a former addict preaching instead of helping.

  10. Jerry Frey Sep 16, 2015 - 02:41 PM

    With the price of marijuana falling due to decriminalization, Mexican drug farmers are turning to opium poppies.


  11. FedupAmerican Sep 16, 2015 - 02:02 PM

    Exactly why the Silent Majority better start screaming before it's too late.  I am no longer going to be a silent bystander of the PC crap.  When I hear it from anyone I am going to challenge it.  Stupid Liberals have to be the one's silenced.  Come on REAL AMERICAN's and get tough against this BS. And believe me you need marijuana today just to keep from wanting to kill someone in this crazy country the once great USA.

  12. Bob Sep 16, 2015 - 02:01 PM
    As the misery index climbs so do violence and addictive, escapist behaviors. This is the fundamental transformation, courtesy of Obama.
  13. B. Hussein Sep 16, 2015 - 01:24 PM

    I wonder how this happened.  

    Let's see if the President has any ideas:

    "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it."

  14. Jon Sep 16, 2015 - 01:20 PM

    Chronic pain: check

    Childhood victim of sexual abuse: check

    Addict and alcoholic starting at age 10: check

    Used for 21 years: check

    Sober for 18 years: check

    Lots of yelling in all caps.  Lots of blame, emotion and name calling.  It would help to stop demanding that our truths are the truth.  It would help to consider the highest best use of the human mind.  The narcissism that overwhelms the longterm drug user, maybe especially MJ, is the only outcome.  Scream, yell, rant, rave, call names, fuss and fume, but the social impact of mental and emotional diversion is narcissism, and that continues to devastate our society.  Imprisoning users is not a solution, but celebrating use is actually evil.  All drug use should become as culturally abhorrent as the successful campaigns agains smoking tobacco.  Instead, it seems we must endure the religion of MJ and that's a bad high.

  15. Chris Sep 16, 2015 - 01:10 PM

    In a society that has abandoned God for hedonism of course lost souls have to find something to fill up the emptiness inside. The psychological, neurological & spiritual dynamics (in theology its called concupiscence) are actively at work within every human being. Left to our own devices we become addicts. We can be become addicted to ideas, work, relationships, power, moods, fantasies and an endless variety of other things.

  16. Not Suprised Sep 16, 2015 - 12:51 PM

    Simply put just what the kenyon wanted.

  17. Mud Foot Sep 16, 2015 - 12:42 PM

    why don't dems asks about smokin pole? Dats how I's be getting all my weeeds.

  18. EricOfManchester Sep 16, 2015 - 12:33 PM

    I wonder if there is a difference in drug use between public and private schools... Sometimes I feel so stupid for asking such questions.

  19. jN Sep 16, 2015 - 11:49 AM

    Not mentioned is drug  use by White men.. Most Texas contractors require drug testing for workers. There are very  few white workers on the big construction projects, Most workers are Hispanics. written by a white male.  


  20. MOONMAC Sep 16, 2015 - 11:43 AM
    Anti-Freedom is at the root of all evil. There better be a damn good reason to restrict it. Trying to prevent people from getting high while creating organized crime syndicates and violent drug cartels isn’t a good reason. The Drug War turned our beloved country into a cesspool of violence, murder and corruption. It’s 100 times worse in other countries but it will only get worse in the USA too. Our massive welfare state ensures a steady supply of drug
    users and ruthless soldiers willing to kill and die for more drug turf. 95% of all murders can be directly related back to the Drug War or Welfare. We need to end both American institutions so we can take our country back!

  21. Clifton Middleton Sep 16, 2015 - 11:26 AM
    The Pot Laws are the corner stone of the Police State, they were concieved in racism and conjeured up class fear. The more marijuana the people use the better the economy and general well being of the nation. As George Washington said, and I concure, 'Plant It Everywhere'.......
  22. RagnarB Sep 16, 2015 - 11:00 AM

    Blah, blah, blah. Rotten economy, nothing to do, ignorent/uneducated youth, sick/immoral society, reality tv; what do you expect? And with unemployment growing, it will get worse.

  23. HongPong Sep 16, 2015 - 10:07 AM

    Your organization should consider opposing the presence of prescription drug ads on television. Not only are they spooky and lacking in enough disclaimers about side effects, they encourage everyone to think that popping more drugs will make them feel better. Same deal with alcohol TV ads. 

    In the war on addiction which side is the TV industry on? Which side is the CIA and the Federal Reserve for that matter? Why is the US aligned with heroin traffickers since the Flying Tigers KMT in China to the Karzai clan today? Why are banks like Wachovia and HSBC given a total pass on laundering huge sums of drug money? This is all structurally baked into our abusive "national security" intelligence industry to promote cheap addiction, making communities easier to control.

    Bonus points for the "9PUFS" captcha here. Smoke em if you got em.

  24. Jef Sep 16, 2015 - 10:04 AM

    Go ahead and do your drugs. My problem is the government bennies while you're doing it.We need to get back to "NO WORK, NO EAT"...

    Paying someone to be a useless slug will be the demise of this once great republic.

  25. Larry Sep 16, 2015 - 09:59 AM

    This is the Obama era. Nearly 100 hundred million out of the workforce. Probably staying home and getting high, while on government benefits.


    It's a nationwide "Choom gang".

  26. Gary Sep 16, 2015 - 09:46 AM
    what you put into your body is your business?  I think it is my business when a doctor does drugs before a surgery on me.  It is crazy to be an irresponsible druggie and it hurts society.  Wake up druggies, get straight and clean and start contributing something to society instead of demanding the right to poison your body.
  27. Smiling Jack Sep 16, 2015 - 09:20 AM

    People know that they're being lied to and defrauded and manipulated and they're trying to self medicate  to reduce their anxiety and the 'pain' of not having societal leadership they can trust they see people pursuing their agenda regardless of the harm and they want to escape. Thus we have higher drug useage.

  28. Alexander Hamilton Sep 16, 2015 - 09:19 AM

    What do you expect when 0 allows lawlessness and anarchy.  Baraka Obamawo has championed the use of drugs and anarchy from day one.  Hope all you hooey changy types are proud of yourselves.

  29. Lee Sep 16, 2015 - 09:16 AM
    And, alcohol?---a drug.
  30. Lilywhiteazz Sep 16, 2015 - 08:55 AM

    Baby boomers who never wanted to quit smoking weed are now retiring and smoking again.  No piss test = light up the bong.


  31. kat Sep 16, 2015 - 08:54 AM

    It's not surprising drug use has gone up. Just look at people around you, how they act, dress.....I live in a major metropolitan city and  in a decent neighborhood. Every morning I clean up empty beer cans people throw on the lawn and alley, see people smoking (not cigarettes) in the alley. People drive like jerks, swear, look disheveled like that could care less how they look when they woke up in the morning. I see a huge apathy among the general public, especially in the urban areas and you can't tell me that people are not abusing drugs whether it be illegal or legal. I live across the street from a high school and I see these kids and a lot look lost. Our culture is justifying the use of a lot of things which years ago was looked down upon. 

  32. Citizensfo Sep 16, 2015 - 08:38 AM

    Legalize all drugs -it is the only answer to this non problem---


  33. Steve Sep 16, 2015 - 08:35 AM

    Nothing that a few more trillion in the War on Drugs can't solve!!

  34. Imahippyburning Sep 16, 2015 - 08:34 AM

    The Leftists in this Country create the problems that plague humanity then demand that others clean them up! Whether it is a piss poor Foreign Policy that ignores our enemies to the point where we are attacked a dozen times and do nothing that leads to 9/11, or ignoring the plight of millions of innocent lives lost due to "non-violent" drug use. Please tell the parents of lost souls who die daily due to your perversions just how non violent drugs are! Lastly, the Liberal imbeciles will go out of their way to save a tree but happily fight for the right to kill their offspring and sell their body parts! 

    Liberals - Leftists have perverted mankind to the point where they believe the fable of Hope and Change only to deny the reality they have been delivered nothing but Apathy and Despair! 

  35. USA Citizen Sep 16, 2015 - 08:17 AM

    I've long sighed with 'studies, papers, data, etc' that can't help but collect personal, governmental, cultural bias to prove itself right. I'm an Ivy League professor's son who was training well not to have shoddy logic with my theories, and have an advanced degree working in social services over 30+ yrs. Drugs are an extremely complex issue. Seeing an 'increase' is silently implied to be the usual suspects. Consider that non-pill mill Drs. are being arrested (an anecdote from a Dr. from last wk) for prescribing what the DEA considers 'too much' morphine, opioids, etc. They've been hassling Drs for yrs and many aren't willing to be arrested even to minimize your pain. Then consider that the US' aging population worked many 'back-breaking' jobs and now are experiencing bulging & herniated discs, neuropathy, etc. Add to the whole the fact that every state's largest employer is a civil employer (city, county, state). This including schools, police, firemen, road workers, etc. The state's Worker's Comp laws are heavily slanted to their advantage. FInding a Drs, a lawyer,a pharmacy, etc is next to impossible. WC 'insurance' denies all but the incidentals and forces patients with 'lifetime medical' to feel bullied. You'll see MANY tax paying, law abiding, chronic pain or other ailments in citizens being under medicated, forced to do their own with no options for their pain except Gabapentin, muscle relaxers, etc. Society is ripe with complex problems not so easily explained with this and that are up.

  36. Jack Herer Sep 16, 2015 - 08:05 AM
    Ignorant people go nuts about marijuana. No one has ever died from marijuana. It is safe and effective. People who are against marijuana use do not know what they are talking about. The arrests of 500,000 Americans a year for marijuana possession is one giant reason no one respects cops or courts anymore. Pot heads get arrested while the Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was diddling little boys and no one arrested him. The US is totally corrupt.
  37. mick mccall Sep 16, 2015 - 08:00 AM

    This is silly. Everybody knows there are laws against illegal drugs. That's why they're illegal. And laws prevent illegal immigration and illegal gun use, too. So no one ever gets shot and there are no people flooding across international borders. We could cure global poverty is we'd just pass the right law.


  38. Barton Sep 16, 2015 - 07:24 AM

     @Angie 16 Sep

    "..What I put into my body is my business.  Not yours, not the gov't.!!!!!!"

     Who can disagree with that! But you can also agree that the government and everyone else should not have to pay or put up with any fallout for drug usage, yes? Medical prescriptions exempt.

    Leave you alone means - No welfare, no Health Care for drug related problems, and maximum penalties for drug related crimes. Then go ahead poison yourself silly.

  39. Jack Kennedy Sep 16, 2015 - 07:02 AM

    Adult Coloring Books at bestsellers and highest Drug usage in over 10 years .......... YEP, good job obama


    obama............. the Adult Coloring Book prezzie

  40. McLovin Sep 16, 2015 - 06:28 AM

    Yes. When our shit liberal government and corporatist employers make life almost unbearable for the working man ( those of us responsible for supporting the now more than one third of this country's population who don't work) it makes you angry and makes you say F-it and get high or drunk. Society and the F-ing liberal government of Obama Bin Laden are increasingly out out control (open borders encouraging hordes of illegal alien invaders to take over our country; increased taxes and costs of living with concurrent exponential rise in basic life necessities like food; redistributing our country's wealth to POS third world invaders; outsourcing our jobs, etc., etc.). People are either pissed off or saying F-it, let's get stoned or drunk! MAKES PERFECT SENSE. Also totally agree with a lot of the other commenters in saying STOP LUMPING MJ IN WITH NARCOTICS! The only reason it's still a Class 1 drug is because the gubment and our now -militarized cops don't want to give up their DRUG WAR BUDGETS. WAKE THE F UP AMERICA!

  41. MidwestNorsk Sep 16, 2015 - 05:35 AM

    Downstream effect of electing a democRAT president.

     LOSER drug addict growth and government services parasites.

  42. RubberBuggyBumpers Sep 16, 2015 - 05:19 AM
    did NOT see this coming.... Nope.....
  43. Angie Sep 16, 2015 - 04:58 AM

    I am sick & tired of marijuana being 'lumped in' with 'drug use'...I have a med mj card for 10 yrs. ntoow and I need It for chronic pain & anxiety...I have not gone on to harder drugs, so STOP LUMPING IN pot with heavy-duty NARCOTICS!!!  It is like comparing apples & oranges...Not comparable!!!! Just because straight people don't like pot, doesn't mean it isn't helpful for the rest of us to cope!!!!  So F***k off with your propaganda!!!  It's getting REALLY OLD..What I put into my body is my business.  Not yours, not the gov't.!!!!!!


  44. Hellosekers Sep 16, 2015 - 03:31 AM

    Does illicit drug use include marijuana?  Of course it does, and it shouldn't.  I'm clocking in at 56 years old, and I hadn't touched an illegal drug since the early to mid 80s.

  45. Blake Davis Sep 16, 2015 - 01:17 AM

    Can't we simply end the nonsense and admit what we all know - that the war on drugs is lost. If people want to use drugs - let them, It's their life if they want to get high so what?

    Because what we are doing is not working - and it will never work. All we are doing is ruining lives and destroying the most vulnerable among us. 

     Of course the addiction industry - those who make their living off the misery of addicts, will never admit this. But really when your success rate is maybe 3% why not give it a rest?

  46. Ralph Cramden Sep 15, 2015 - 11:53 PM
    Do you suppose that drug use is increasing because it's, well, legal? No, no, that can possibly be the reason. That's too simple.
  47. Kevin Stowell Sep 15, 2015 - 11:02 PM

    I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with an administration in power that tells the youngsters their future is crap and then bends over backward to see that we all have a bleak future, right?

  48. Justin Sep 15, 2015 - 10:48 PM
    Look at the state of your country if you want to see why we have a drug problem.
  49. Bob Sep 15, 2015 - 10:46 PM

    Tell the government to keep up with their limits on pain meds for people who really need them and the heroin usage will go higher. Idiots.

  50. Shlomo Weinstein Sep 15, 2015 - 10:43 PM

    Of course drug use is up. Look at Washington DC and its inhabitants, who happen to be the biggest drug users, porn fiends, sociopaths, and pedophiles.

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