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Drug Abuse: A Major Health Problem

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• An estimated 20.4 million Americans ages 12 or older were current users of an illicit drug in 2006. This estimate represents 8.3 percent of the population.

• Among American teenagers, 42 percent have tried marijuana, 47 percent have tried cigarettes and 73 percent have tried alcohol by the time they finish high school.

• An estimated 73 million Americans—30 percent of the population 12 years and older—reported being current users of a tobacco product in 2006.

• Marijuana is the most widely used illicit substance in the United States. In 2006, 15 million people were current users of marijuana.

• Inhalant use is heavy among eighth graders, with 16 percent reporting use at least once in their lifetime. These drugs are particularly dangerous because they can damage the nervous system even after a single use, and they can be fatal.

• Almost one in four Americans (23 percent, or 57 million) had participated in binge drinking (having five or more drinks on the same occasion) within the previous 30 days in 2006. Among young adults ages 18 to 25, the rate was 42 percent.

• In 2006, an estimated 30 million Americans drove under the influence of alcohol and 10 million drove under the influence of illicit drugs.

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