14.8 million Americans (or 6.7 percent of the population 12 years old
and older) were users of illegal drugs at any given time in 1999, according
to a recent survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
(SAMSA). Approximately 78 million Americans aged 12 or older (36 percent)
reported using illicit drugs at least once in their lifetime, according
to a preliminary 1998 SAMSA report.
Overall drug use trends were
relatively stable in 1999 compared to the year before, but rates of drug use
have dropped to roughly half the levels of the late 1970s.
According to the 1999 SAMSA National
Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA):
Marijuana is the most commonly
used illicit drug. It is used by 75 percent of current illicit drug
About 10.4 million persons 12 to 20 years
of age reported drinking alcohol in the month prior to the survey
interview in 1999 (29.4 percent of this age group). Of these, 6.8
million (20.2 percent) were binge drinkers and 2.1 million (6.0 percent)
were heavy drinkers.
The rates of current illicit drug use for
major racial/ethnic groups were 6.6 percent for whites, 6.8 percent
for Hispanics, and 7.7 percent for blacks. The rate was highest among
the American Indian/Alaska Native population (10.6 percent) and among
persons reporting multiple race (11.2 percent). Asians had the lowest rate
In 1999 an estimated 3.6 million Americans
(1.6 percent of the total population age 12 and older) were dependent
on illicit drugs. An estimated 8.2 million Americans were dependent
on alcohol (3.7 percent). Of these, 1.5 million people were dependent
on both alcohol and illicit drugs. Overall, an estimated 10.3 million people
were dependent on either alcohol or illicit drugs (4.7 percent).
An estimated 2.8 million people (1.3 percent
of the population age 12 and older) received some kind of drug or
alcohol treatment in the 12 months prior to being interviewed in 1999.
Of this group, 1.6 million (0.7 percent) received treatment for illicit
drugs, and 2.3 million (1.0 percent) received treatment for alcohol.
Despite generally declining rates of drug
use over the past two decades, drug arrests have been up significantly
over the same time period. According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports,
roughly 1,532,200 drug violation arrests were made in 1999, up from 580,900
These arrests have resulted in a dramatic
increase in prison and jail populations. According to the Bureau of Justice
Statistics, an estimated 109,200 people were held in jails due to drug-related
offenses in 1996, compared to 20,400 in 1983. About 236,800 people were
held in state prisons for drug-related offenses in 1998, compared to 148,600
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: The UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention web site provides information on drug control and crime prevention. Specific topics include drug abuse and demand reduction; drug supply reduction; crime prevention and criminal justice; treaty and legal affairs, analysis and statistics; news and publications; and links to 22 UNODC field offices.
Common Sense for Drug Policy: Common Sense for Drug Policy is a research/educational nonprofit working to promote discussion of alternatives to the US drug war.
Drug Abuse Statistics: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration presents national and state prevalence and trends in illegal drug use, the nonmedical use of prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.
Drug Reform Coordination Network: The Drug Reform Coordination Network is the central Internet resource for drug reform activism. Learn why prohibition is a failure, and what you can do to help end the disastrous Drug War.
FrontLine: Drug Wars: Frontline reports on America's war on illegal drugs, examining the drug policies, drug warriors and the global illegal drugs business. Through interviews with DEA agents, drug lords, drug smugglers and drug users, the four hour documentary traces the history of America's drug war and the social and political forces that shape it.
Illegal Drug Use Statistics: Information on the use and abuse of illegal drugs in the United States. Provided by the National Center for Health Statistics.
Join Together Online: A resource center for communities working to reduce substance abuse and the promotion of gun control.
MEDLINEplus - Drug Abuse: Resource that provides links to a wide range of substance abuse resources, provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy: Students for Sensible Drug Policy is committed to providing education on harms caused by the War on Drugs, working to involve youth in the political process, and promoting an open, honest, and rational discussion of alternative solutions to our nation's drug problems.
UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention - World Drug Report 20004: Provides a comprehensive explanation of the development of the international drug problem and the important progress that has been made in recent years in the fight against it. Using maps, charts, graphs and tables, the report offers a complete picture of the extent of the global drug problem.
Has the War on Drugs Been Lost?: William F. Buckley, one of the most respected Conservatives in the world and editor of National Review, dedicates an entire issue to the question of whether the drug war does more harm than good.