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September, 5 2002

Report Shows Almost 
16 Million Americans Currently Use Illegal Drugs

Today (September 5, 2002), the US government released the results of the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, the primary method of estimating the prevalence of illicit drug, alcohol and tobacco use in the US.

According to the Survey, in 2001 15.9 million Americans age 12 and older used an illicit drug in the month immediately prior to the survey interview. This represents an estimated 7.1 percent of the population in 2001, compared to an estimated 6.3 percent the previous year.

Additionally, the Survey found that 1.9 million persons used Ecstasy (MDMA) for the first time last year, and that an estimated 8.1 million persons have tried MDMA at least once in their lifetime.

In other findings the Household Survey found that:

1.3 million (0.6 percent) of the population aged 12 or older were current users of “hallucinogens,” meaning that they had used  LSD, PCP, peyote, mescaline, mushrooms, or MDMA (Ecstasy) during the month prior to the interview.

Marijuana remains the most commonly used illicit drug.

Most drug users were employed. Of the 13.4 million illicit drug users aged 18 or older in 2001, 10.2 million (76.4 percent) were employed either full or part time.

An estimated 66.5 million Americans 12 years or older reported current use of a tobacco product in 2001. This number represents 29.5 percent of the population.


Almost half of Americans aged 12 or older reported being current drinkers of alcohol in the 2001 survey (48.3 percent). This translates to an estimated 109 million people.

Under the current US drug prohibitionist policy, each the 16 million Americans who regularly used an illicit drug in the year 2001 were deserving of arrest and incarceration despite that fact that the overwhelming majority of these people, like the roughly 175 million Americans who regularly used the legal drugs alcohol and nicotine, caused no harm to others.

According to Richard Glen Boire, director of the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics (, “these numbers make clear that a sustainable drug policy for the coming decades must move beyond the “zero-tolerance” criminalization model, and even beyond the medicalization/treatment model, to recognize that humans have a natural drive to experience alternative states of consciousness, and the fundamental right to do so—as long as they do not harm others.”

The entire 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse can be viewed online at:

For more information contact:

Wrye Sententia
Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics (CCLE)
Web site:
Telephone & Fax: 530.750-7912

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