Illicit drug users in America age 12 and older numbered 24.6 million in just one month in 2013, according to a report by the Health and Human Services Department. Drug users ages 12 to 17 numbered 2.2 million. According to the report, 1.6 million American teenagers binged on alcohol in the 30 days prior to their interview.
While those numbers seem high, The Washington Post reported that the numbers have declined since 2002. Regular tobacco use has been cut in half as well as prescription painkiller abuse by teens.
The Washington Post quoted Peter Delany, the director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as saying, "We're seeing really exciting numbers in terms of the 12- to 17-year-olds across the country. We see illicit drug use down significantly from 2009. We see marijuana starting to trend downward. Hallucinogens and inhalants are also down slightly."
The White House Office of National Drug Policy released a press statement saying, "The 2013 NSDUH results suggest that the Administration's efforts to reduce drug and alcohol use among young people is working."
The ONDP press release also said that the report reflects their efforts to reduce opiate abuse. "In 2013, the rate of current non-medical use of pain relievers among Americans 12 or older dropped 19.0 percent since 2009, and among young adults aged 18 to 25, the rate declined 31 percent. The abuse of opioids, a group of drugs that includes heroin and prescription painkillers, has a devastating impact on public health and safety in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 110 Americans died on average from drug overdose every day in 2011. Prescription drugs were involved in more than half of the 41,300 overdose deaths that year, and opioid pain relievers were involved in nearly 17,000 of these deaths. There were about 4,400 drug poisoning deaths related to heroin. Drug overdose deaths even outnumbered deaths from motor vehicle crashes."
And marijuana legalization has not seemed to create any spike in marijuana use. The Washington Post quotes Carnegie Mellon researcher Jonathan Caulkins as saying, "Success in anti-smoking [efforts] appears to have been 'protective' for youth."