When the government released its latest figures on illegal drug consumption, politicians and the media seized upon slight increases in use among 12-to-17-year-olds as evidence that the war on drugs needs to go nuclear. A less spectacular finding, however, got less coverage: Between 1994 and 1995, past-month drug use by all Americans remained flat-- and less than half its 1979 peak of 14.1 percent. The data also support the hypothesis that drug use naturally tapers off with age. Last year, only about 8 percent of people between 26 and 34 used drugs on a monthly basis, a figure that shrinks to 2.8 percent for those 35 or older.
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