WASHINGTON – Cocaine and methamphetamine use among young adults declined significantly last year as supplies dried up, leading to higher prices and reduced purity, the government reports. Overall use of illicit drugs showed little change.
About one in five young adults last year acknowledged illicit drug use within the previous month, a rate similar to previous years. But cocaine use declined by one-quarter and methamphetamine use by one-third.
Drug use increased among the 50-59 age group as more baby boomers joined that category. Their past-month drug use rose from 4.3 percent in 2006 to 5 percent in 2007.
“The baby boomers have much higher rates of self-destructive behavior than any parallel age group we have data from,” said John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Walters, 55, is a boomer himself.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, being released today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is based on interviews with about 67,500 people.
Overall, about 20 million people 12 or older reported using illicit drugs within the past month. Marijuana was the most popular by far, with 14.4 million acknowledging use of marijuana in the past month.
Among adolescents, age 12 to 17, drug use dipped from 9.8 percent in 2006 to 9.5 percent last year, continuing a five-year trend.
Their use of alcohol and cigarettes also fell during the same period.
“The earlier you use drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, the more likely you are to have a lifelong problem,” Walters said.
Much of the progress in curbing drug use occurred between 2002 and 2005. Critics of the nation’s drug policies warned not to read too much into the latest numbers.