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22 Million Americans Abuse Drugs or Alcohol, Study Says

An estimated 22 million Americans abused drugs or alcohol or were dependent on one or both in 2002, according to recent statistics by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the September report, 19.5 million Americans 12 and older, or one in 12, use illicit drugs. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug, with a rate of 6.2 percent, or 4.8 million users.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
About 54 million Americans participated in binge drinking in the last 30 days, and 15.9 million are heavy drinkers. About 120 million Americans drink alcohol, and about one in seven drove under the influence of alcohol in the last year.
 
An estimated 71 million Americans, three in 10, use tobacco, with 61 million smoking cigarettes.
 
The report found that nearly 8 million people, or 3 percent of the population, need treatment for a diagnosable drug problem, and 18.6 million, or 8 percent of the population, need help with a serious alcohol problem. Only 6 percent of those needing help, however, seek or receive treatment.
 
“There is no other medical condition for which we would tolerate such huge numbers unable to obtain the treatment they need,” HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said in a news release.
 
The 2002 National Survey on Drug Abuse was based on interviews with 68,126 respondents in their homes, which included homeless shelters and dormitories. The estimates were reported 98 percent accurate for the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />United States population aged 12 and older.
 
According to the report, use of marijuana declined slightly among youth. There were 1.7 million new users among youth in 2001, compared to 2.1 million in 2000. Officials credit prevention efforts aimed at teens.
 
Two million Americans use cocaine, with 567,000 of them using crack. There are 1.2 million using hallucinogens, including 676,000 using Ecstasy. There are 166,000 current users of heroin.
 
The second most popular illicit use of drugs behind marijuana is non-medical use of prescription drugs. An estimated 6.2 million people abuse pills, including 4.4 million using tranquilizers, 1.2 million using stimulants and 400,000 using sedatives.
 
Illicit drug use is highest among young adults aged 18-25, with over 20 over 20 percent using drugs. Youth aged 12-17 also are significant users, with an 11.6 percent usage rate.
 
Nearly 90 percent of youths say their parents would strongly disapprove of them trying marijuana even once or twice.