Findings from the 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse show that rates of illicit drug use in the U.S. population remained largely unchanged from 1999. A slight decrease in drug use was noted among the youngest teenagers. The survey also showed that current cigarette use declined among youths 12 to 17 years old and young adults aged 18 to 25.
An estimated 14 million Americans, or 6.3 percent of the population 12 years old and older, reported that they had used an illicit drug at least once during the 30 days before the 2000 survey interview. Among 12- to 17-year-olds, 9.7 percent were illicit drug users in 2000, compared with 9.8 percent in 1999.
A leading indicator of drug use—the rate of use in the youngest age group—suggests that rates may decline in the future. Among youths 12 and 13 years old, a key target audience of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, the rate of past-month illicit drug use declined from 3.9 percent in 1999 to 3 percent in 2000.
Patterns of drug use showed substantial variation by age. Among youths, rates increased with age, peaking in the 18- to 20-year age group at 19.6 percent. After age 20, the rates generally declined with age, except among adults aged 40 to 44 years, whose drug use rates were higher than those in the 35- to 39-year-old group. People in their early forties in 2000 were teenagers during the 1970s, a period when the incidence and prevalence of drug use were rising dramatically.
About 15.4 percent of unemployed adults were current illicit drug users in 2000, compared with 6.3 percent of full-time employed adults and 7.8 percent of part-time employed adults. Of the 11.8 million adult illicit drug users in 2000, 9.1 million (77 percent) were employed either full-time or part-time.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug. In 2000 it was used by 76 percent of current illicit drug users. Approximately 59 percent of illicit drug users consumed only marijuana, 17 percent used marijuana and another illicit drug, and the remaining 24 percent reported use of an illicit drug other than marijuana.
An estimated 65.5 million Americans aged 12 and older—29.3 percent—reported current use of a tobacco product in 2000. Of these, 55.7 million (24.9 percent) smoked cigarettes, 10.7 million (4.8 percent) smoked cigars, 7.6 million (3.4 percent) used smokeless tobacco, and 2.1 million (1.0 percent) smoked pipes.
For youths aged 12 to 17, the rate of cigarette use declined from 14.9 percent in 1999 to 13.4 percent in 2000. This decrease was primarily a result of a decline among boys. Among youths the rate of smoking was higher in 2000 for females than for males—14.1 percent and 12.8 percent, respectively. Rates of cigarette use among young adults declined from 39.7 percent in 1999 to 38.3 percent in 2000.
New use of cigarettes on a daily basis has decreased since its most recent peak of 1.9 million new users in 1997 to 1.4 million in 1999. On a per-day basis 3,186 youths became smokers in 1997, compared with 2,145 per day in 1999—a 33 percent decline.
The rates of alcohol use among youths aged 12 to 20 and the general population have remained relatively flat for the past several years. In 2000 almost half of Americans 12 years old and older—46.6 percent, or 104 million people—reported being current drinkers. The prevalence of current alcohol use increased with age, from 2.4 percent at age 12 to a peak of 65.2 percent for 21-year-olds. About 9.7 million people in the 12- to 20-year age group, or 27.5 percent, reported drinking alcohol in the past month. Of these, 6.6 million, or 18.7 percent, were binge drinkers, and 2.1 million, or 6 percent, were heavy drinkers.
The percentage of people who reported driving under the influence of alcohol during the past year declined from 10.9 percent in 1999 to 10 percent in 2000. The percentage driving under the influence of drugs also declined—from 3.4 percent in 1999 to 3.1 percent in 2000.
The survey report notes that the use of one substance often goes hand in hand with the use of others. For example, 4.6 percent of nonsmokers aged 12 to 17 in 2000 used illicit drugs, whereas 42.7 percent of youths who used cigarettes also reported current illicit drug use.
The survey is based on a representative sample of the U.S. population aged 12 and older, including persons living in households and in some group quarters, such as dormitories and homeless shelters. In 2000, interviews were conducted with more than 71,000 individuals. Complete findings of the survey are available at www.samhsa.gov.
In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks, the American Psychiatric Foundation, the charitable arm of the American Psychiatric Association, has established the Disaster Services Fund to accommodate community and local organizations that are providing psychological support and counseling to people affected by the attacks.
Contributions will fund community-based programs in the following areas:
• Activities that link communities and organizations to provide support networks for individuals who are coping with the psychiatric and emotional impact of the attacks. Innovative programs that use technological advances such as teleconferencing to reach broader audiences are of special interest to the foundation
• Activities that educate the public about the psychiatric and emotional impact of the attacks, the importance of seeking help, and where they can seek support, as well as activities that promote cross-cultural understanding
• Activities that help educate teachers, guidance counselors, religious leaders, police, and other community leaders to recognize and provide support to individuals in emotional distress and refer them to the appropriate mental health practitioners
• School- and community-based activities geared specifically to helping children understand the psychiatric and emotional impact of the attacks, the importance of seeking help, and where and how they can seek support.
Contributions to the fund are tax-deductible; 100 percent of the contributions received will be used to support programs in the areas listed above. Send contributions to American Psychiatric Foundation, 1400 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005. Checks should be made payable to "APF Disaster Services Fund." To make your contribution by credit card, please call 1-888-357-7924, ext. 6246. More information about the foundation is available on the APA Web site at www.psych.org.
New database on public-sector services: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has created an online database with information about developments in public-sector substance abuse and mental health services. More than 150 newspapers, journals, trade newsletters, national and state reports, and other sources are searched for information, and new abstracts are posted every two weeks on the Behavioral Health Headlines Database. The database can be searched by using any of 75 key terms. In announcing the creation of the database, SAMHSA Acting Administrator Joseph H. Autry III, M.D., said, "The key objective of the system is to monitor how reforms in public-sector health and behavioral health systems are affecting the delivery, organization, and financing of public-sector services." The database is available on the SAMHSA Web site at www.managed care.samhsa.gov (click on Headlines).
AHRQ report on uninsured in America: The size of the uninsured U.S. population did not change significantly between 1999 and 2000, according to new data from the Medical Expenditure Survey released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). In 2000, about 16.1 percent of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population under age 65, or 44 million people, were uninsured. Health insurance status varied by several demographic characteristics. The age group at greatest risk was the 19- to 24-year group, of whom 33.1 percent were uninsured. More than a third of Hispanics under age 65 (35.2 percent) were uninsured, compared with 23.2 percent of black non-Hispanics and 14.2 percent of white non-Hispanics. People who never married account for nearly a quarter of the nonelderly population and over a third (36.5 percent) of the uninsured population. The uninsured were defined as people not covered by Medicare, TRICARE (a military program), Medicaid, other public hospital-physician programs. Other findings are summarized in The Uninsured in America, Statistical Brief No. 1, which is available on the AHRQ Web site at www.ahrq.gov under Data and Surveys.
Appointments:Mary Jane England, M.D., a past-president of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), has been appointed the ninth president of Regis College, a Catholic liberal arts and sciences college for women in Weston, Massachusetts. Dr. England is a graduate of Regis College.
Burton Reifler, M.D., M.P.H., was named national program director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Faith in Action program. The program makes grants to local groups of volunteers representing many faiths who work together to care for neighbors who are chronically ill, frail, elderly, or disabled. Dr. Reifler, who is an APA member, is professor and chair of the department of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
Awards: The American Psychiatric Association honored three individuals at the opening session of the Institute on Psychiatric Services last month in Orlando, Florida. Martin Fleishman, M.D., received the 2001 Arnold L. van Ameringen Award for outstanding contributions to the field of psychiatric rehabilitation. Dr. Fleishman was recognized for his efforts to define and expand the role of psychiatrists in residential care facilities and for his work with patients in such facilities. He is currently a staff psychiatrist at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco.
Bryan H. King, M.D., was the recipient of the 2001 Frank J. Menolascino Award, which honors an APA member who has made significant contributions to treatment, teaching, and research in the area of mental retardation. Dr. King, who is chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire, was recognized for his contributions in all these areas and for his advocacy on behalf of children and adults with mental retardation.
Milton Viederman, M.D., received the 2001 Psychiatric Services Video Award for his film Psychological Engagement of the Medically Ill Patient and Family. Dr. Viederman is professor of clinical psychiatry at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. He is also training and supervising psychoanalyst at the Columbia Psychoanalytic Center in New York.