|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
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 (www.cognitiveliberty.org),
“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
The entire 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse can
be viewed online at: http://www.samhsa.gov
For more information contact:
Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics (CCLE)
Web site: www.cognitiveliberty.org
Telephone & Fax: 530.750-7912
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