Marijuana Had the Largest Illicit Drug Use Initiation in 2016

A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals that 2.6 million people aged 12 or older in 2016 tried marijuana for the first time in the past year. Only about a third of people aged 12 or older perceived great risk of harm from weekly marijuana use. When asked, 44.7 percent of youth aged 12 to 17 reported that it would be fairly easy or very easy to obtain marijuana.

This article originally appeared on SAMSHA’s website on September 28, 2017

The study also found that while there were 170,000 new heroin users, 85.6 percent of people aged 12 or older perceived great risk of harm from trying heroin. About 1 in 12 adolescents indicated that heroin would be easily obtainable.

There were 4.6 million new alcohol users aged 12 or older and 1.8 million people who tried a cigarette for the first time in the past year. An estimated 68.3 percent of people perceived great risk from having four or five drinks of alcohol nearly every day, and 72.8 percent perceived great risk from smoking a pack of cigarettes or more.

SAMHSA reports that there were 2.1 million new misusers of prescription pain relievers, 1.4 million new misusers of prescription tranquilizers, and 1.4 million new misusers of prescription stimulants.

SAMHSA has programs that support substance abuse prevention outreach efforts. For example, SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework helps states and communities build comprehensive prevention systems. These systems increase perception of risk from substance use, promote healthy youth development, reduce risk-taking behaviors, build assets and resilience, and help prevent problem behaviors.

Today’s report, Risk and Protective Factors and Estimates of Substance Use Initiation: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, is available at: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DR-FFR3-2016/NSDUH-DR-FFR3-2016.htm. The report was drawn from some of the key findings of SAMHSA’s 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report. The NSDUH report is a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 68,000 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older.

For more information, contact the SAMHSA Press Office at 240-276-2130.