National Household Survey on Drug Abuse
in New Use of Substances (Incidence)
Because information on when people first
used a substance is collected on a retrospective basis, information on
first time use or incidence is always one year behind information on current
An estimated 2.1 million persons first used
marijuana in 1997. This translates to about 5,800 new marijuana users per
day. The rate of first use of marijuana among youths age 12-17 declined
significantly from 79 per thousand potential new users in 1996 to 64 per
thousand potential new users in 1997. This rate had increased from 38 to
73 between 1991 and 1994; that is, use of marijuana by youths who had never
previously used the substance doubled during that time period. The youth
incidence rate was stable from 1994 to 1996.
An estimated 81,000 persons used heroin for
the first time in 1997. The rate of initiation for youths from 1994 to
1997 was at the highest level since the early 1970s.
There were an estimated 730,000 new cocaine
users in 1997. The rate of new use among youths did not change between
1996 (11.1) and 1997 (10.8). However, there was a statistically significant
increase in the rate from 1991 (4.1) to 1997. The 1997 rate for youths
is similar to the high initiation rates of the early 1980s.
There were an estimated 1.1 million new hallucinogen
users in 1997. The rate of initiation among youths age 12-17 increased
between 1991 and 1995, from 11.1 to 25.0 per thousand potential new users,
and was constant from 1995 to 1997 (23.9).
An estimated 2.1 million people began smoking
cigarettes daily in 1997. More than half of these new smokers were younger
than age 18, which translates to more than 3,000 new youth smokers per
Use in California and Arizona
In 1998, the prevalence of illicit drug use
among persons 12 years and older was 7.2 percent in California, 7.4 percent
in Arizona, and 6.1 percent in the rest of the United States. These differences
are not statistically significant.
14.4 percent of the youths age 12-17 in Arizona
were current drug users in 1998. The rate in Arizona was significantly
greater than the rates in California (9.9 percent) and in the rest of the
United States (9.9 percent).
There was no significant change in illicit
drug use in California between 1997 and 1998, either for youths or for
adults. By contrast there were significant decreases in Arizona during
the same period in the rates of illicit drug use among youths age 12-17
and young adults 18-25 years of age.
In 1997 Californians and Arizonians were less
likely than other Americans to perceive great risk in using marijuana.
This page was last updated on June 01, 2008.