Drugs and Crime Facts Drug use
Bureau of Justice Statistics
U.S. Department of Justice
Page last revised on June 21, 2000
The Monitoring the Future Study asked high school seniors, “On how many occasions, if any, have you used drugs or alcohol during the last 12 months or 30 days?”
Reported drug and alcohol use by high school seniors, 1999
Used within the last:
Drugs 12 months* 30 days
Alcohol 73.8 % 51.0 % Marijuana 37.8 23.1 Stimultants 10.2 4.5 Hallucinogens 9.4 3.5 Other opiates 6.7 2.6 Sedatives 6.3 2.8 Cocaine 6.2 2.6 Tranquilizers 5.8 2.5 Inhalants 5.6 2.0 Steroids 1.8 0.9 Heroin 1.1 0.5 *Including the last 30 days.
Source: University of Michigan, Drug Use from the Monitoring the Future Study, December 1999, press release.
Self-reports of drug use among high school seniors may under represent drug use among youth of that age because high school dropouts and truants are not included, and these groups may have more involvement with drugs than those who stay in school.
|Percent of all college students, 1988-98|
|Daily within last month||1.8||%||2.6||%||1.7||%||1.8||%||1.6||%||1.9||%||1.8||%||3.7||%||2.8||%||3.7||%||4.0||%|
|Daily within last month||0.1||%||
* Less than 0.05%
Rates of cocaine use by college students over the previous 5 years had varied between 3.0% of all students in 1992 to 4.6% in 1998, and marijuana use ranged from 27.7% in 1992 to 35.9% in 1998.
Source: U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Survey Results
on Drug Use from the Monitoring the Future Study, 1975-98 as reported in the BJS Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 1998, NCJ 176356.
Of 1999 high school seniors —
- 49.7% reported having ever used marijuana/hashish
- 9.8% reported having ever used cocaine
- 2.0% reported having ever used heroin.Source: University of Michigan, The Monitoring the Future Study,
December 1999, press release.
1999 high school seniors reporting they could obtain drugs fairly easily or very easily Marijuana 88.9 % Amphetamines 58.1 Cocaine 47.6 LSD 44.7 Crack 41.1 Barbiturate 37.9 Tranquilizers 32.7 Heroin 32.1 Crystal methamphetamine (ice) 27.6 PCP 26.7 Amyl/butyl nitrates 21.4 Source: University of Michigan, the Monitoring the Future Study,
December 1999, press release.
The increase in the use of marijuana has been especially pronounced. Between 1991 and 1998, past-month use of marijuana increased from:
- 14% to 23% among high school seniors.
- 9% to 19% among 10th graders.
- 3% to 10% among 8th graders.
Reported use of marijuana by high school seniors during the past month peaked in 1978 at 37% and declined to its lowest level in 1992 at 12%.
The use of cocaine within the past month of the survey by high school seniors peaked in 1985 at 6.7%, up from 1.9% in 1975 at the survey’s inception. Cocaine use declined to a low of 1.3% in 1992 and 1993. In 1998, 2.4% of high school seniors reported past-month cocaine use.
Source: The Monitoring the Future Study as presented in the ONDCP Fact Sheet: Drug Use Trends, June 1999.
Student reports of availability of drugs
In 1995 and 1997, almost one-third of all students in grade 9 through 12 (32%) reported someone had offered, sold, or given them an illegal drug on school property. This was an increase from 1993 when (24%) of such students reported illegal drugs available to them on school property.
Between 1993 and 1995, males and females reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property increased. Males were more likely than females to report that drugs were offered, sold, or given to them on school property. In 1997, males (37%) and females (25%) reported availability of drugs.
Source: BJS jointly with the U.S. Department of Education, Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 1999, NCJ 178906, September 1999.
In 1989, 63.2% of students ages 12 through 19 reported that marijuana, cocaine, crack, or upper/downers were available at school, according to data in the National Crime Victimization Survey School Crime Supplement. That percentage increased somewhat to 65.3% in 1995.
In 1995 the availability of drugs was reported more often by —
- public schools students (67.2%) than by private school students (48.0%)
- students in higher grades were more likely than students in lower grades in both 1989 and 1995
Similar rates of drug availability were reported by —
- white students (68%) and black students (67%)
- students residing in cities (67%), suburban areas (68%), and nonmetropolitan areas (65%). Source: BJS, 1989 and 1995 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey: Students Report of School Crime, NCJ 169607, March 1998.
According to data from the preliminary 1998 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) National Household Survey on Drug Abuse —
- 78 million Americans age 12 or older (36% of the population) reported illicit drug use at least once in their lifetime
- 11% reported use of a drug within the past year
- 6% reported use of a drug within the past month.
Data from the 1998 survey showed that marijuana and cocaine use is the most prevalent among ages 18 to 34.
Age of respondent, 1998
35 or Drug use12-1718-2526-34older
Marijuana Last month 8.3 % 13.8 % 5.5 % 2.5 % Last year 14.1 24.1 9.7 4.1
Last month 0.8 % 2.0 % 1.2 % 0.5 % Last year 1.7 4.7 2.7 0.9
Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, 1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, August 1999.
Another measure of drug use in the general population is the number of drug-related emergency room episodes and drug-related deaths. In 1998 the SAMHSA Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reported 542,544 drug-related episodes in hospital emergency departments nationwide, an increase from the 518,521 reported in 1994.
From 1995 to 1998 cocaine was the most common drug reported in emergency department episodes.
Total number of drug mentions in drug
abuse-related emergency department episodes, by type of drug, 1995-98
Cocaine Heroin Marijuana
1995 135,801 70,838 45,271 1996 152,433 73,846 53,789 1997 161,087 72,010 64,744 1998 172,014 77,645 76,870
Source: U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, Year-End 1998 Emergency Department Data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network.
The total of 9,743 deaths related to drug abuse were reported in 1997 by 145 medical examiners in 42 metropolitan areas involving 24,162 drug mentions. Drug abuse deaths usually involve drug overdoses, but they also include deaths in which drug usage was a contributory factor.
Source: U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Annual Medical Examiner Data 1997