Report: Native youth highest drug users
Facebook Twitter Email

Showing a repeat of last year's troubling statistics, Native American youth have the highest rate of illicit drug use in the nation, according to a federal government report released on Thursday.

American Indian and Alaska Native youth ages 12 to 17 use drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and inhalants at a rate far surpassing their peers, reported the Department of Health and Human Services. Some 22.6 percent of Native youth reported current use of drugs, based on 1999 and 2000 data collected for the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse.

In comparison, only 10.1 percent of white youth in the same age group, 9.5 percent of Hispanic youth, 8.4 percent of African-American youth and 5.8 percent of Asian youth reported current use of illicit drugs.

Native youth also had the highest rate of cigarette smoking among racial and ethnic groups. In 2000, 27.5 percent of Natives ages 12 to 17 reported smoking cigarettes in 2000, up from 26.9 percent in 1999.

The rate was significantly higher than those reported by white youth (16.0 percent), Hispanic youth (10.2 percent), Asian youth (8.4 percent) and African-American youth (6.1 percent).

Binge drinking among underage Native youth was also high, at 20.3 percent reporting drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion. Only the rate for underage white youth was slightly higher at 21.4 percent.

The high rates of drug, tobacco and alcohol use among Native youth echo those among the adult population, which in many cases, has increased. Use of tobacco products among American Indian and Alaska Natives of all ages jumped from 43.1 percent in 1999 to 55.0 percent in 2000.

The rate of current use of cigarettes among Native Americans ages 18 and older, for example, increased from 37.2 percent to 44.5 percent. Some 73.2 percent of Natives also report using cigarettes at least once in their lifetime, a rate comparable to that of whites.

As a nation, little has changed when it comes to illicit drug use. But Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson pointed out that drug use among youth ages 12 and 13 has dropped -- indicating that drug use in the future will also decline.

Similarly, Thompson said cigarette use has fallen among teens and young adults.

In response to last year's high rates of drug use among Native youth, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign stepped up efforts to target Indian Country. The $2 million radio, newspaper and magazine campaign is part of an ongoing effort, said the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Get the Report:
Summary of Findings from the 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (SAMHSA October 2001)

Relevant Links:
Office of National Drug Control Policy -
The Media Campaign - http:/
The Drug Court Programs Office, US Department of Justice - http:/
Tribal Drug Court Resources, Tribal Court Clearinghouse - http:/

Related Stories:
Ad campaign targets youth drug use (9/7)
Drug use high among Native youth (9/1)