NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Clinton Administration Congratulates Itself On Drug Statistics

August 19, 1999

Heralding a survey which shows drug use among teens fell from 1997 to 1998, Donna E. Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services, went so far as to declare that "we've turned the corner" on the battle against illegal drug use. But the survey's findings have see-sawed during the Clinton years -- with drug use actually increasing from 1996 to 1998.

Here are some findings of the 1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse:

  • In 1996, 9 percent of children ages 12 to 17 had used illegal drugs in the past month -- which increased to 11.4 percent in 1997, then fell to 9.9 percent in 1998.
  • In 1992, the usage rate was just 5.3 percent.
  • Overall, drug use remained relatively stable, with 13.6 million Americans -- 6.2 percent of the population ages 12 and older -- using illicit drugs in 1998, compared to 13.9 million in 1997.
  • Cocaine use rose from 1.5 million users in 1997 to 1.8 million in 1998.

Teen alcohol use was also stable in 1998 at 19.1 percent. Among those ages 18 to 25, binge drinking rose from 28 percent in 1997 to 31.7 percent in 1998.

The rate of smoking among young adults, ages 18 to 25, rose from 40.6 percent in 1997 to 41.6 percent in 1998.

President Clinton interpreted the survey as good news, saying it showed that "more young people are getting the message that drugs are wrong and illegal, and can kill you."

Source: Cheryl Wetzstein, "Study Finds Significant Fall in Teen Drug, Cigarette Use," Washington Times, August 19, 1999.


Browse more articles on Government Issues