Monday, June 14, 2010

A High Old Time in Rhode Island


Feds release annual drug numbers.

[Map: Illicit drug use other than marijuana in the past month among people aged 12 or older based on 2007-2008 figures.]→

It’s time again for the government’s annual state-by-state survey of drug use in America.  Assembled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the yearly numbers are argued over by states and agencies competing for federal health and medicine dollars. In this year’s sweepstakes, dark horse Rhode Island upset the reigning champion, the District of Columbia, as the state with the highest number of monthly users of illicit drugs other than marijuana. 

Usage figures were based on numbers compiled in 2007 and 2008. Overall, eight per cent of Americans aged 12 or older used an illicit drug other than pot in the prior month, essentially unchanged from last year’s report based on 2006-2007 figures. Using the percentage of monthly users as a yardstick, other states in the highest group included Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Colorado, and Tennessee. Among the states in the lowest group were Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, Mississippi, New Jersey, the Dakotas, Wyoming—and the lowest of them all--Iowa.

According to SAMSHA, five states showed significant changes compared to a year ago. Iowa, Louisiana and Wyoming showed marked decreases, while usage of drugs other than marijuana in Hawaii and Oregon increased.

As for alcohol, SAMSHA pegs the national rate of alcohol use among people age 12 or older at 51.4 per cent. The highest rate of alcohol use was found in the 18-25 age group (big surprise there). This year the state drinking trophy goes to New Hampshire, with Utah coming in dead last, as usual. High-drinking states include Colorado, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. (What is it with New England?)

Interestingly, eight out of the ten lowest states for drinking are found in the South: Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Virginia, among others. However, the South makes up for it in tobacco usage. States with the highest prevalence of tobacco use were Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia—and, okay, Wyoming. The state with the fewest smokers? Do you have to ask? Utah. The national smoking average still hovers around 24 per cent.

For a longer view, SAMSHA compared the current study figures with numbers compiled in 2002-2003. Iowa, Missouri, and Pennsylvania showed significant drops for drugs other than marijuana. Only Rhode Island and Tennessee showed marked increases.

Tennessee also showed increases in marijuana usage, while less pot was smoked in Florida, Iowa, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. Overall, usage decreased slightly compared to the 2002-2003 period.

The most meaningful change compared to the 2002-2003 period was a 2.5 per cent decrease in the use of cocaine among people 12 or older. Nationwide, the percentage of alcohol use remained almost identical (51.4 per cent).

Photo Credit: SAMSHA

4 comments:

mrclay said...

Thanks for this summary. Curious, do you know if "tobacco use" is including/excluding e-cigarettes, or if any telling usage data is being collected?

Dirk Hanson said...

My understanding is, no. Just tobacco.

Stark Raving Sober said...

I thought you might post about this as soon as it came out - I did too :) It was interesting to read your perspective on the numbers. I was struck by how low Iowa ranked for use in almost every category. And Rhode Island! Oy Vey.

Dirk Hanson said...

I was born and raised in Iowa, and I too was surprised at their last place ranking, given the healthy ongoing production of meth in the corn state.

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