Recently Released U.S. Drug Survey Shows Marijuana Use Among U.S. Residents Continues to Increase; No Change in Heroin Use

Marijuana use continues to increase among U.S. residents ages 12 and older, according to recently released data from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

  • An estimated 31.5 million residents reported using marijuana in the past year, compared to approximately 25 million each year from 2002 to 2008.
  • The nonmedical use of prescription drugs, which is the second most commonly used illicit substance, increased from an estimated 14.7 million users in 2011 to 16.7 million in 2012.
  • The only other significant increase in drug use from 2011 to 2012 was for cocaine, which increased for the first time in six years (from 3.9 million to 4.7 million users).
  • While heroin use is relatively rare and did not increase from 2011 to 2012, the estimated number of past year users in 2012 is nearly twice that of the estimated number in 2007 (669,000 vs. 373,000, respectively).


NOTES: Nonmedical Use of Prescription Drugs is defined as use of pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and/or sedatives without a prescription belonging to the respondent or use that occurred simply for the experience or feeling the drug caused. It does not include the use of over-the-counter drugs.
SOURCE:  Adapted by CESAR from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables, 2013. Available online at