Go to the Table Of Contents

2000 State Estimates of Substance Use & Mental Health

bulletNational data      bulletState level data       bulletMetropolitan and other subState area data

2. Illicit Drug Use

The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) obtains information on nine different categories of illicit drug use: marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and the nonmedical use of prescription-type pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives. Estimates of "any illicit drug" use reflect any of the nine categories listed above. In 2000, an estimated 14.0 million Americans (6.3 percent of the population aged 12 or older) had used an illicit drug in the past month (Office of Applied Studies [OAS], 2001b). Marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug, is used by about 76 percent of current illicit drug users (4.8 percent overall). Approximately 2.6 percent of persons aged 12 or older used a substance other than marijuana in the past month.

2.1 Any Illicit Drug

Past month estimates of use of any illicit drug ranged from a low of 4.2 percent in North Dakota to a high of 11.4 percent in Massachusetts for all persons aged 12 or older (Figure 2.1;Table A.2). Because these model-based State estimates utilized all of the data from both 1999 and 2000, the estimates are more accurate than the 1999 State estimates that were based on a single year. Although the 2-year estimates were not strictly comparable with the 1999 State estimates, due to the added year, the ranking of the States was similar. For example, for all persons aged 12 or older, 7 of the 10 States with the highest prevalence rates for 1999 were the same as those for 1999 and 2000.

The larger sample size based on the combined 1999 and 2000 data resulted in more precision in estimating the true value in the population. For example, given the estimate above for North Dakota (4.2 percent), the probability is 95 percent that the true value for North Dakota lies somewhere between 3.4 and 5.1 percent. This interval is approximately one quarter smaller than the corresponding interval for North Dakota in 1999.1

The States with the highest rates of use for all persons aged 12 or older were mostly in the West (six States). Massachusetts (11.4 percent) had a significantly higher rate than some of the other States in the top fifth. Colorado (8.9 percent) had the second highest rate. Most of the States that displayed the lowest rates in the Nation were either from the Midwest or the South. Utah was the only State in the West among the lowest rates.

Looking at the State rankings separately by age group (three age groups: ages 12 to 17, 18 to 25, and 26 or older), Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island ranked in the top fifth for all three age groups (Figures 2.2 to 2.4; Table A.2). Massachusetts had the highest rates in the youngest and oldest age groups and was second highest in the 18 to 25 age group. The 18 to 25 age group reported higher prevalence rates than either the 12 to 17 or the 26 or older age groups. In that age group, Vermont displayed the highest prevalence rate of past month use of any illicit drug—27.0 percent.

The makeup of the States comprising the lowest fifth in the three age groups was similar to that in the overall 12 or older age group. Eight of the States that ranked among the lowest in the 26 or older age group could also be counted among the lowest rates for all persons aged 12 or older. Seven were common to the 18 to 25 age group, and five were the same in the 12 to 17 age group. Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota were the only States in the lowest fifth for all three age groups.

2.2 Marijuana

Because marijuana is the predominant substance used by those using an illicit drug, many of the States that showed high prevalence rates for any illicit drug also had high prevalence rates for past month use of marijuana. For example, eight of the States in the top fifth for use of an illicit drug for persons aged 12 or older were also ranked in the top fifth for past month use of marijuana: Massachusetts, Colorado, Vermont, Delaware, Rhode Island, Oregon, Alaska, and Hawaii (Figures 2.1 and 2.5; Table s A.2 and A.4). In the 12 to 17 age group, nine States were in the top fifth for both substances: Massachusetts, Delaware, Colorado, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Mexico, and Oregon (Figures 2.2 and 2.6; Table s A.2 and A.4). Thus, seven States were common to the top fifth for current marijuana use among persons aged 12 or older and youths aged 12 to 17: Massachusetts, Delaware, Colorado, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Oregon.

2.3 Perceptions of Risk of Marjuana Use

An individual's perceptions of the risks of substance use have been showed to be highly related to whether he or she actually uses the substance (Wright & Pemberton, in press). The State with the lowest rate of perceived great risk of using marijuana occasionally (once a month) among persons aged 12 or older was Vermont (Figure 2.9; Table A.6). Only about 30 percent of all persons aged 12 or older in Vermont thought that occasional use was a great risk. Vermont had the third highest rate of past month use of marijuana in the Nation. By contrast, Mississippi reported the highest perceived risk of marijuana, about 55 percent of the 12 or older age group, but had the fourth lowest State rate of past month marijuana use in that age range (3.2 percent). Of the 10 States reporting the lowest perceived risk of marijuana use, 8 were in the top fifth for past month use of marijuana (Figures 2.5 and 2.9; Table s A.4 and A.6).

2.4 Incidence of Marijuana

Related to the prevalence of marijuana use is the number of persons in a period of time who use it for the first time ever. When the number of first-time users of a substance increases for a number of consecutive years, the prevalence rates for the substance tend to increase also.

The average annual incidence of marijuana (averaged over the most recent 2 years) was highest in the 12 to 17 age group (Figure 2.14; Table A.8). Massachusetts had the highest rate in the Nation—8.8 percent. Half of the top 10 States were in the West: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Nevada. By comparison, the highest rate for all persons aged 12 or older was significantly lower—only 2.3 percent (Alaska) (Figure 2.13; Table A.8). For youths, Utah (4.7 percent) had the lowest rate for the Nation. Six of the ten States in the lowest fifth for marijuana incidence were from the South.

Rates of incidence of marijuana use were highly correlated at the State level with prevalence rates for current (i.e., past month) use of marijuana and any illicit drug use for youths aged 12 to 17 and somewhat less for the other age groups. Seven of the States in the top fifth for youth incidence of marijuana were also in the top fifth for past month use (Figures 2.6 and 2.14; Table s A.4 and A.8).

In the 12 to 17 age group, first-time users of marijuana comprised a large percentage of current use of marijuana. Even though the incidence rate (based on an annual average over the past 2 years) and the prevalence rate of current marijuana use (based on the past month) are not strictly comparable, one can be expressed as a ratio relative to the other. As a ratio relative to the past month prevalence rate for marijuana, the incidence rate in the 12 to 17 age group was the highest of all age groups. At the national level, this ratio was approximately 30 percent (1.5 percent/4.8 percent). At the State level, the ratio for Massachusetts was about 70 percent (8.8 percent/12.4 percent).

2.5 Any Illicit Drug Other Than Marijuaua

In the 12 or older age group and in the 26 or older age group, Massachusetts reported the highest rate of past month use of these drugs in the Nation (3.4 and 2.8 percent, respectively) (Figures 2.16 and 2.19; Table A.10). Half of the States in the top fifth for persons 12 or older and for persons 26 or older were in the West.

The category with the highest rates of past month use of any illicit drug other than marijuana consisted of persons aged 18 to 25 (Figure 2.18; Table A.10). The rate for the highest State in the top fifth was 9.7 percent (Vermont). The top rate was somewhat lower for youths aged 12 to 17—6.2 percent for Montana (Figure 2.17; Table A.10). Inhalants constitute the primary substance used by the 12 to 17 age group. States that were most likely to have the lowest rates of current use of an illicit drug other than marijuana were ones from the Midwest. From four to six States from that region comprised the lowest fifth in each of the three age groups.

2.6 Cocaine

The national prevalence rate for use of cocaine in the past year among all persons aged 12 or older was approximately 1.6 percent (combined average for 1999 and 2000). Because cocaine is one of the substances included in "any illicit drug use other than marijuana," it is useful to compare the rankings of States with respect to those two substance measures. Seven of the States with the 10 highest rates of past month use of an illicit drug other than marijuana (aged 12 or older) also reported past year rates of cocaine use (aged 12 or older) that were in the top fifth. New Mexico reported the highest rate of past year use of cocaine (2.8 percent) among persons aged 12 or older (Figure 2.20; Table A.12). Eight out of ten of the States with the highest rates of cocaine use among youths were in the West. Three States (New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada) were in the top fifth for all three age groups (12 to 17, 18 to 25, and 26 or older) (Figures 2.21 to 2.23; Table A.12). Comparing these results with the 1999 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) figures of the unadjusted number of admissions to treatment per 100,000 population by State (OAS, 2001c), only four States with high rates of admission also had high estimated prevalence rates: Colorado, Alaska, the District of Columbia, and Massachusetts.

Figure 2.1 Percentages Reporting Past Month Use of Any Illicit Drug among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.1  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.2 Percentages Reporting Past Month Use of Any Illicit Drug among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.2  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.3 Percentages Reporting Past Month Use of Any Illicit Drug among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.3  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.4 Percentages Reporting Past Month Use of Any Illicit Drug among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.4  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.5 Percentages Reporting Past Month Use of Marijuana among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.5  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.6 Percentages Reporting Past Month Use of Marijuana among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.6  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.7 Percentages Reporting Past Month Use of Marijuana among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.7  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.8 Percentages Reporting Past Month Use of Marijuana among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.8  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.9 Percentages Reporting Perceptions of Great Risk of Smoking Marijuana Once a Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.9  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.10 Percentages Reporting Perceptions of Great Risk of Smoking Marijuana Once a Month among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.10  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.11 Percentages Reporting Perceptions of Great Risk of Smoking Marijuana Once a Month among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.11  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.12 Percentages Reporting Perceptions of Great Risk of Smoking Marijuana Once a Month among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.12  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.13 Average Annual Rates of First Use of Marijuana among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.13  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.14 Average Annual Rates of First Use of Marijuana among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.14  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.15 Average Annual Rates of First Use of Marijuana among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.15  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.16 Percentages Reporting Past Month Use of Any Illicit Drug Other Than Marijuana among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.16  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.17 Percentages Reporting Past Month Use of Any Illicit Drug Other Than Marijuana among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.17  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.18 Percentages Reporting Past Month Use of Any Illicit Drug Other Than Marijuana among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.18  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.19 Percentages Reporting Past Month Use of Any Illicit Drug Other Than Marijuana among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.19  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.20 Percentages Reporting Past Year Use of Cocaine among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.20  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.21 Percentages Reporting Past Year Use of Cocaine among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.21  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.22 Percentages Reporting Past Year Use of Cocaine among Persons Aged 18 to 25, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.22  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

Figure 2.23 Percentages Reporting Past Year Use of Cocaine among Persons Aged 26 or Older, by State: 1999 and 2000

Figure 2.23  D

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1999 and 2000.

1 This interval is usually referred to as the 95 percent prediction interval because the estimate of the prevalence rate itself is predicted from a model fitted to the sample data.

Table Of Contents

This page was last updated on December 30, 2008.