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I. Other National Surveys of Illicit Drug Use

Monitoring the Future (MTF) is an annual school survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders with college and young adult followups, conducted by the University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research, under a grant from NIDA. The survey is conducted every spring. The 1995 results were released in a press release in December 1995 (U.S. DHHS 1995). For all three grades combined, there were about 420 public and private schools and about 50,000 students in the sample, for an average of approximately 140 schools and 17,000 students per grade (Johnston, O'Malley, and Bachman 1995).

Comparisons between the MTF and the students sampled in the NHSDA have generally shown NHSDA prevalences to be lower than MTF estimates, with the relative differences being largest for 8th graders. The direction of the estimates of change from year to year among 12th graders have generally been similar. Both surveys have shown significant increases in illicit drug use among adolescents between 1992 and 1995. The lower prevalences in the NHSDA may be due to more underreporting in the household setting than in the MTF school setting. MTF does not survey dropouts, a group shown (using the NHSDA) to have higher rates of use (Gfroerer 1993). For a single grade, the NHSDA sample sizes are much smaller than the MTF sample sizes.

The National Comorbidity Survey (National Survey of Health and Stress) was a 1991 household survey of persons aged 15-54 which collected data on drug abuse and mental health. The study was designed to provide nationally representative estimates of psychiatric disorders (including substance abuse), as defined by DSM-III-R criteria. It included about 8,000 households and was conducted by the Institute for Social Research under a grant from the National Institute for Mental Health with additional support from NIDA. Several papers have been published (Kessler et al 1994). Estimates of illicit drug use prevalence and the prevalence of drug dependence from the NCS were similar to estimates from the 1991 NHSDA. (Anthony et al 1993; Epstein and Gfroerer 1995).

Another recent study of illicit drug use is the Drug Supplement on the 1991 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). This supplement was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and has the potential of providing important data on the relationship between drug use and health status. It also included questions designed to provide estimates of DSM-III-R abuse and dependence on marijuana and cocaine. The supplement covered adults aged 18-44. Comparisons with NHSDA estimates show significantly lower reported rates of use of marijuana and cocaine in the NHIS (Keer et al 1994).

In 1992, the NHIS was also used as sampling base for conducting the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), a nationally representative sample of youth aged 12-21 years. The YRBS collects data on the prevalence of a variety of unhealthy behaviors, including alcohol, cigarette, marijuana, and cocaine use. This survey used a unique data collection method that allowed respondents to listen to tape recorded questions and record answers on an answer sheet that did not allow observers to match the answers with questions. This procedure was intended to maximize the privacy of youths' responses and therefore improve the reporting of sensitive behaviors. In general, the survey found higher rates of alcohol, cigarette, marijuana, and cocaine use for youths than were found in the 1992 NHSDA (Adams et al 1995).

The National Pregnancy and Health Survey (NPHS) was conducted in 1992-1993 (NIDA 1996b). Sponsored by NIDA, it was the first probability survey specifically designed to provide extensive information on the nature and extent of substance abuse among women delivering live-born infants in the U.S. A random sample of 2,613 mothers delivering live borns at hospitals, selected to represent approximately 4 million women delivering live borns, was interviewed between 6 and 36 hours after delivery (while they were still in the hospital) about their use of substances during pregnancy. The survey estimated that 5.5 percent of all women delivering live borns had used illicit drugs at some time during their pregnancy. Alcohol was used by 18.8 percent and cigarettes were used by 20.4 percent. Consistent with the NHSDA, the NPHS found that while 4.6 percent of these women had used marijuana during the past 12 months (defined as use during pregnancy or use in the three months before their pregnancy), only about 1.5 percent used marijuana during the second and third trimesters of the pregnancy. The NHSDA found that while 8.3 percent of pregnant women reported use of marijuana in the past year, only 1.5 percent reported use in the past month.

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