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Substance Abuse

Latest Data

Explore the latest data for the LHI topic Substance Abuse.
Download the latest Substance Abuse data in spreadsheet format [XLSX – 33 KB]

Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

Over the past decade, the percentage of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years who used alcohol or illicit drugs during the past 30 days decreased by 21.6%, from 22.2% in 2002 to 17.4% in 2012. Past-month use of alcohol or illicit drugs by adolescents varies by age, race and ethnicity, and country of birth.

The percentage of adults aged 18 years and over who engaged in binge drinking during the past 30 days was 27.1% in 2008 and in 2012. However, binge drinking by adults varies by sex, age, race and ethnicity, educational attainment, country of birth, marital status, and veteran status.

Leading Health Indicators

Explore the latest data and disparities for each indicator.
Adolescents using alcohol or any illicit drugs during the past 30 days (SA-13.1)
Adults engaging in binge drinking during the past 30 days (SA-14.3)

Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use in Adolescents (SA-13.1)

  • Healthy People 2020 objective SA-13.1 tracks the proportion of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years who reported using alcohol or illicit drugs during the past 30 days.
    • HP2020 Baseline: In 2008, 18.4% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years reported use of alcohol or any illicit drugs during the past 30 days.
    • Most Recent: In 2012, 17.4% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years reported use of alcohol or any illicit drugs during the past 30 days.
    • HP2020 Target: 16.6%, a 10% improvement over the baseline.

Alcohol or Illicit Drug Use among Adolescents by Age, 2012

Alcohol or Illicit Drug Use among Adolescents by Age, 2012

SOURCE: National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), SAMHSA.



  • Among age groups, the youngest adolescents (12 to 13 years) had the lowest rate of alcohol or illicit drug use, 5.1%, in 2012. Rates for the other age groups increase with age:
    • 15.2% of adolescents aged 14 to 15 years reported using alcohol or illicit drugs during the past 30 days, about 3 times the rate for adolescents aged 12 to 13 years.
    • 31.3% of adolescents aged 16 to 17 years reported using alcohol or illicit drugs during the past 30 days, more than 6 times the rate for adolescents aged 12 to 13 years.
  • Among racial and ethnic groups, Asian adolescents aged 12 to 17 years reported the lowest rate of alcohol or illicit drug use, 7.2%, in 2012. Rates for adolescents in other racial and ethnic groups were:
    • 15.4% for black, non-Hispanic adolescents
    • 18.2% for American Indian or Alaska Native adolescents
    • 18.3% for Hispanic adolescents
    • 18.3% for white, non-Hispanic adolescents
    • 19.8% for adolescents who identify with 2 or more races
    • 22.3% for Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander adolescents
  • Adolescents born outside the U.S. reported a lower rate of alcohol or illicit drug use (14.4%) than adolescents born in the U.S. (17.6%) in 2012.

Endnotes:

  • Unless noted otherwise, all disparities described are statistically significant at the 0.05 level of significance.
  • Data are for adolescents aged 12 to 17 years who reported using at least 1 of the following substances during the past 30 days: alcohol, marijuana or hashish, cocaine (including “crack”), inhalants, hallucinogens (including PCP and LSD), or heroin; or any nonmedical use of analgesics, tranquilizers, stimulants, or sedatives during the past 30 days.
  • The terms “Hispanic or Latino” and “Hispanic” are used interchangeably in this report.
  • Data for this objective are available annually and come from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), SAMHSA.

Binge Drinking in Adults (SA-14.3)

  • Healthy People 2020 objective SA-14.3 tracks the proportion of adults aged 18 years and over who engaged in binge drinking during the past 30 days.
    • HP2020 Baseline: In 2008, 27.1% of adults aged 18 years and over reported that they engaged in binge drinking during the past 30 days.
    • Most Recent: In 2012, 27.1% of adults aged 18 years and over reported that they engaged in binge drinking during the past 30 days.
    • HP2020 Target: 24.4%, a 10% improvement over the baseline.
  • Females had a lower rate of binge drinking (21.6%) than males (33.0%) in 2012.
  • Among age groups, adults aged 85 years and over had the lowest rate of binge drinking, 5.4%, in 2012. Rates for the other age groups were:
    • 7.3% among adults aged 75–84 years
    • 10.9% among adults aged 65–74 years
    • 22.5% among adults aged 45–64 years
    • 37.2% among adults aged 18–44 years

Adult Binge Drinking in Past 30 Days by Marital Status, 2012

Adult Binge Drinking in Past 30 Day by Marital Status, 2012

SOURCE: National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), SAMHSA.



  • Among racial and ethnic groups, Asian adults had the lowest rate of binge drinking, 14.8%, in 2012. Data for Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander adults were statistically unreliable. Rates for adults in other racial and ethnic groups were:
    • 24.3% for black, non-Hispanic adults
    • 27.6% for Hispanic adults
    • 28.2% for white, non-Hispanic adults
    • 29.4% for adults who identify with 2 or more races
    • 33.2% for American Indian or Alaska Native adults
  • Among education groups, adults aged 25 years and over with an advanced degree had the lowest rate of binge drinking, 20.5%, in 2012. Rates for adults 25 years and over in other education groups were:
    • 23.0% among adults with less than a high school education
    • 27.1% among adults with a high school education
    • 25.6% among adults with some college education
    • 25.8% among adults with a 4-year college degree
  • Adults born outside the U.S. had a lower rate of binge drinking (18.9%) than adults born in the U.S. (28.7%) in 2012. The rate for adults born in the U.S. was about 1.5 times the rate for adults born outside the U.S.
  • When assessed by current marital status, adults who were widowed had the lowest rate of binge drinking, 10.5%, in 2012. Rates for the other marital groups were:
    • 21.9% for married adults, more than twice the rate for widowed adults
    • 27.6% for divorced or separated adults, more than 2.5 times the rate for widowed adults
    • 40.6% for adults who have never been married, nearly 4 times the rate for widowed adults
  • Veterans had a lower rate of binge drinking (22.7%) than non-veterans (27.6%) in 2012.

Endnotes:

  • Unless noted otherwise, all disparities described are statistically significant at the 0.05 level of significance.
  • Data are for adults aged 18 years and over who report having 5 or more drinks (for men) or 4 or more drinks (for women) at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other during the past 30 days.
  • The terms “Hispanic or Latino” and “Hispanic” are used interchangeably in this report.
  • Data for this objective are available annually and come from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), SAMHSA.

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