Drug Policy

Drugged Up?

Survey shows little change in drug use.

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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.