DefinitionPercentage of adolescents (ages 12-17) who reported ever (lifetime incidence) having used an illicit drug (marijuana, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and methamphetamine, as well as the misuse of prescription pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives) on the [https://nsduhweb.rti.org/respweb/project_description.html National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)]. Responses of having used alcohol only were not considered positive responses for illicit drug use.
NumeratorWeighted number of adolescents (ages 12-17) who reported having ever used an illicit drug in their lifetime on the NSDUH. Responses of having used alcohol only were not considered positive responses for illicit drug use.
DenominatorWeighted number of adolescents (ages 12-17) with complete and valid responses for the illicit drug use questions on the NSDUH.
Data Interpretation IssuesThe [https://nsduhweb.rti.org/respweb/project_description.html National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)] is a nationally standardized survey that has been performed since 1971. The NSDUH is completed annually using a sample from the U.S. civilian, noninstitutionalized population aged 12 or older. In 1999, the sample design expanded to include all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In 2002, the name of the survey was changed from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) to the NSDUH. Information on background and methodology of the NSDUH, managed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), can be found at [http://www.samhsa.gov/].
The NSDUH questionnaire underwent a partial redesign in 2015, in which methodological changes were made to the measurement of 7 of the 10 illicit drug categories--hallucinogens, inhalants, methamphetamine, and prescription pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives. Due to these changes, data for lifetime, past year, and past month measures of any illicit drug use and the use of any illicit drug other than marijuana are not comparable to data prior to 2015. As a result, trends going back to 2002 for these overall illicit drug measures will not be available and new baselines will begin with 2015.^1^[[br]][[br]]
1. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 16-4984, NSDUH Series H-51). [http://www.samhsa.gov/data/]. Accessed February 14, 2017.
Why Is This Important?The prevalence of illicit drug use among Alaska adolescents poses a major public health concern. Illicit drug use contributes to increases in injuries, school dropout rates, teen pregnancy, interpersonal violence, suicide attempts, depression, youth crime, and many other social and emotional problems.^2^ While many view experimentation as a rite of passage for adolescents, most adult users report using illicit drugs for the first time as adolescents.^3^ Of people 12 years of age and older in the U.S., 28.6 million (10.6%) used illicit drugs in 2016; of those illicit drug users, 2.0 million were adolescents aged 12 to 17.^4^[[br]]
2. Degenhardt L, Hall W. Extent of illicit drug use and dependence, and their contribution to the global burden of disease. Lancet. 2012;379(9810):55-70.
3. Briere FN, Fallu JS, Morizot J, Janosz M. Adolescent illicit drug use and subsequent academic and psychosocial adjustment: an examination of socially-mediated pathways. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2014;135:45-51.
4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Behavioral health trends in the United States:
Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and
Health. [http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf]. Published September 2015. Accessed November 4, 2016.
Healthy People Objective: Increase the proportion of high school seniors never using substances--Illicit drugsU.S. Target: 58.6 percent
How Are We Doing?In 2015-2016, 13.2% of Alaska adolescents aged 12 through 17 reported using an illicit drug in the past 30 days on the NSDUH. The most commonly used illicit drug among Alaska youth was marijuana, with 10.4% of adolescents reporting past month marijuana use compared to 3.6% reporting the use of illicit drugs other than marijuana. In 2015-2016, 4.0% of Alaskan adolescents reported misuse of prescription pain relievers, 0.9% reported using cocaine, and 0.1% reported using heroin.^5^ [[br]][[br]]
5. 2013-2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Model-Based Prevalence Estimates (50 States and the District of Columbia). [https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUHsaeExcelTabs2014.xlsx]. Accessed March 1, 2017.
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?In 2015-2016, illicit drug use among Alaskan adolescents aged 12 through 17 was significantly higher than among adolescents nationwide. In Alaska. 13.2% of adolescents reported past month illicit drug use compared to 8.3% of adolescents in the U.S. as a whole. Marijuana use was also significantly higher in Alaska than in the U.S. as a whole, with 10.4% of Alaskan adolescents aged 12-17 reporting past month marijuana use compared to 6.8% of adolescents nationwide. There was no significant difference between Alaska and the U.S. in the percentage of adolescents reporting nonmedical pain reliever use, cocaine use, or heroin use in 2015-2016.
What Is Being Done?The State of Alaska Epidemiologic Profile on Substance Use, Abuse and Dependency from 2013 is available at: [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dbh/Documents/Prevention/EPI2013.pdf]. This profile provides a more detailed report on the state of substance use and abuse in Alaska.
The State of Alaska also provides more detailed information on marijuana use and the use of heroin and opioids in Alaska at the following websites.
Heroin and opioids: [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Director/Pages/heroin-opioids/default.aspx]
Evidence-based PracticesThere are multiple sources for research on interventions to prevent and reduce the use of illicit drugs in the adolescent population. Alaska is partnering with other states, the [http://www.cdc.gov/ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)], and the [http://www.samhsa.gov/ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)] to develop a series of public health strategies gleaned from the evidence base.
SAMHSA maintains a website that collects the latest in substance abuse prevention evidence-based practices. The link to the information can be found here [http://www.samhsa.gov/ebp-web-guide/substance-abuse-prevention].