1997 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse
Perceptions of Risk of Using Illicit Drugs, Alcohol, and Cigarettes (Tables 11.1 and 11.2)
In all of the adult age categories, the percentage reporting great risk from using marijuana, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, or cigarettes increased steadily with age. For example, although only about 46% of 18 to 25 year olds saw regular marijuana smoking as a great risk, approximately 64% of adults age 35 or older saw this type of drug use as a great risk. Approximately 54% of adolescents perceived great risk of harm from regular marijuana use, 31% perceived great risk from occasional marijuana use, and 47% perceived great risk from drinking five or more drinks of alcohol once or twice a week. For every other drug use behavior, however, youths aged 12 to 17 were less likely than any other age group to report perceptions of great risk. This difference was especially noteworthy for risks regarding trying heroin once or twice, whose occasional use was perceived to be a great risk by only 54% of youths compared to more than 80% of those age 26 or older.
Table 11.1 also shows that there were few differences in perceptions of great risk between the 1996 and 1997 NHSDA. Specifically, adolescents were less likely to report perceptions of great risk from smoking marijuana once or twice a week in 1997 than in 1996 (54% vs. 57%). Those aged 18 to 25 and those aged 26 to 34 were more likely to perceive great risk from using cocaine once a month in 1997 than in 1996 (71% vs. 67% and 76% vs. 71%, respectively) and from using cocaine once or twice a week (91% vs. 87% and 93% vs. 88%, respectively).
In Table 11.2, the prevalences of perceptions of great risk resulting from use of different drugs are presented by whether respondents had used any illicit drugs in the past year. Consistently, respondents who had used any illicit drug in the past year were less likely than those who had not used illicit drugs to report perceiving great risk from use of the various drugs. For example, approximately 64% of those who had not used any illicit drug in the past year perceived great risk from smoking marijuana once or twice a month compared with only 17% of those who had used any illicit drug in the past year. The only exception to this general pattern was among adolescents where youths who had or had not used any illicit drug in the past year were about equally likely to perceive great risk from using cocaine once or twice a week and from trying heroin once or twice.
This page was last updated on December 30, 2008.