Chapter 7U.S. Statistics
Pages 9

The annual National Household Survey on Drug Abuse issued by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a wealth of information on the American drug scene, including tobacco and alcohol, as well as highlighting trends and attitudes related to the war on drugs. The survey for 1999 provided for the first time state-by-state estimates of illicit drug, alcohol, and cigarette use by age group.' In an upbeat introduction to the survey, the then director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Barry McCaffrey, said: "The survey provides extremely encouraging news that teen drug use is going down significantly. However, we must be aware that the younger a person is when first trying marijuana, the greater the risk of drug dependency later. Young people may think that they are experimenting, but, as this study shows, they are really gambling with their futures." Although there had been a decrease in marijuana use by 12 to 17 year olds between 1997 and 1999, from 9.4 percent to 7.0 percent, the use of cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants among the same group had remained stable. However, over the same three years (1997-1999) there had been an increase in illicit drug use among young adults aged 18 to 25, from 14.7 percent in 1997 to 18.8 percent in 1999. The rates of use for the older age groups-26 to 34 and 35 years and older-had not changed significantly.