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Women's Health USA 2013 An illustrated collection of current and historical data, published annually.

Illicit Drug Use

Narrative

Illicit drug use is associated with serious health and social consequences, including addiction and drug-induced death, impaired cognitive functioning, kidney and liver damage, infections—including HIV and hepatitis—decreased productivity, and family disintegration.1,2 Federally illicit drugs include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and non-medical use of prescription-type psychotherapeutic drugs, such as pain relievers, stimulants, and sedatives.3 Poisoning deaths, most of which are drug-related, are rising with abuse of prescription pain relievers and have surpassed motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of fatal injury in the United States.4

In 2009–2011, 6.7 percent of women aged 18 years and older reported using an illicit drug within the past month, compared to 11.0 percent of adult men. The most commonly used drugs among both women and men were marijuana (4.9 and 9.0 percent, respectively) and non-medical use of psychotherapeutic drugs (2.3 and 2.9 percent, respectively). Fewer than 1 percent of women and men reported using cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, or inhalants.

Illicit drug use varied greatly by age and race and ethnicity. Among women, for example, 17.2 percent of those aged 18–25 years reported using an illicit drug in the past month compared to less than 5 percent of women aged 50 years and older (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site). Non-Hispanic Asian women and Hispanic women were less likely than women of all other racial and ethnic groups to report using illicit drugs in the past month (2.2 and 4.7 percent, respectively). Illicit drug use was more common among non-Hispanic women of multiple race (9.1 percent) and non-Hispanic White women (7.5 percent) than among non-Hispanic Black women (6.7 percent); no other racial and ethnic differences were significant.

1 National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse link leaves hrsa.gov site. Commonly Abused Drugs Chart. Accessed 06/16/13.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention link leaves hrsa.gov site. Persons Who Use Drugs: Infections among Persons Who Use Drugs. Accessed 06/16/13.

3 National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse link leaves hrsa.gov site. Commonly Abused Drugs Chart. Accessed 06/16/13.

4 Warner M, Chen LH, Makuc DM, Anderson RN, Miniño AM. Drug poisoning deaths in the United States, 1980–2008. NCHS data brief, no. 81. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2011.

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Graphs

Data

Past-Month Use of Illicit Drugs* Among Adults Aged 18 and Older, by Drug Type and Sex, 2009-2011
Drug Type Percent of Adults, Female Percent of Adults, Male
*Includes marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and any prescription-type psychotherapeutic drugs used for non-medical purposes; all estimates are age-adjusted.
Source: United States Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Office of Applied Studies. National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2009-2011. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-06-20. doi:10.3886/ICPSR34481.v2. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology and Statistics Program.
Marijuana 4.9 9.0
Non-Medical Use of Psychotherapeutics (includes prescription-type pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives, but not over-the-counter drugs) 2.3 2.9
Cocaine 0.4 0.9
Heroin 0.1 0.1
Hallucinogens 0.3 0.5
Inhalants 0.1 0.3
Any Illicit Drug 6.7 11.0

Past-Month Use of Any Illicit Drug* Among Women Aged 18 and Older, by Race/Ethnicity, 2009–2011

Percent of Women:

  • Non-Hispanic White 7.5
  • Non-Hispanic Black 6.7
  • Hispanic 4.7
  • Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native 7.3
  • Non-Hispanic Asian 2.2
  • Non-Hispanic Multiple Race 9.1
  • The estimate for Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander does not meet the standards of reliability or precision, so it is not included here.

*Includes marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and any prescription-type psychotherapeutic drugs used for non-medical purposes; all estimates are age-adjusted.

Source: United States Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Office of Applied Studies. National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2009-2011. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-06-20. doi:10.3886/ICPSR34481.v2. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology and Statistics Program.