Drug Use Fast Facts

There’s a wealth of information about drug use in the U.S. Here are some quick facts you can use to help talk to your kids  about drug use.

  • In 2013, 24.6 million Americans over the age of 12 had used an illicit drug in the last month, an increase from the 2002 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The increase is mostly in the use of marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug.
  • The survey showed cocaine use as gone down in recent years, but methamphetamine use was up.
  • People tend to start using drugs when they are teenagers, most begin with marijuana and drug use is highest among people in their late teens and twenties. In 2013, 22 percent of people 18 to 20 reported using an illicit drug in the past month.
  • Fewer Americans are smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.
  • About 4,000 people under age 21 die each year from injuries caused by underage drinking, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. More than 35 percent of those injuries are in car crashes.
  • Around 40 percent of people who start drinking under the age of 15 become alcoholics, according to the Office of the Surgeon General.
  • More people die from prescription opioid overdoses than from heroin and cocaine combined, according to the CDC.
  • Teens are more likely to use e-cigarettes than traditional cigarettes, says the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Less than 15 percent of high school seniors say e-cigarettes are harmful.
  • Long-term drug use can cause changes in the way your brain works, affecting learning, judgment, stress, memory, decision-making and behavior, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says.

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