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Marijuana Use on the Rise While Other Illicit Drug Use Declines

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health recently revealed shifting patterns of illicit drug use among American teens and adults. Between 2006 and 2010, methamphetamine use dropped from 731,000 users to 353,000, a decline of nearly 50 percent. Cocaine use also declined nearly 38 percent, from 2.4 million users to 1.5 million, while abuse of hallucinogens and inhalants remained steady.

However, during the same period, marijuana use rose significantly, from 5.8 to 6.9 percent among Americans 12 and older. The U.S. now has 17.4 million pot smokers, roughly 3 million more than in 2007. Marijuana’s rise pushed illicit drug use from 8.7 percent of the U.S. population in 2009 to 8.9 percent in 2010.

“We stand at a crossroads in our nation’s efforts to prevent substance abuse and addiction,” said Administrator Pamela S. Hyde of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in SAMHSA.gov. “This nation cannot afford to risk losing more individuals, families and communities to illicit drugs or from other types of substance abuse.”

Why Are More Americans Smoking Pot?

Experts theorize that growing acceptance of medical marijuana could be contributing to wider pot use. “Emerging research reveals potential links between state laws permitting access to smoked medical marijuana and higher rates of marijuana use,” said Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy, in a written statement quoted in CNN.com. “I urge every family – but particularly those in states targeted by pro-drug political campaigns – to redouble their efforts to shield young people from serious harm by educating them about the real health and safety consequences caused by illegal drug use.”

According to the study, marijuana is the drug most often chosen by first-time users, possibly due to ease of access. According to the study, 62 percent of respondents said they first used marijuana, 26 percent first used tranquilizers, stimulants and other prescription drugs and 9 percent first used inhalants. However, compared to 2002 results, the age of first-time users was older – age 18.4 rather than 17.

The study also revealed that 23 million Americans require substance abuse treatment, but only 2.6 million people receive it – which is unfortunate given the devastating impact drug use can have on peoples’ lives, both personally and legally. If you or a loved one has been criminally charged with drug related crimes, contact an experienced attorney in your area today.