Illegal Drug Use Up Sharply Last Year In 2009

By: Susan Harris
Staff Writer
Published: Sep 19, 2021

Illegal drug use has risen sharply last year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. The annual report says about 21.8 million Americans, or 8.7 percent of the population age 12 and older, reported using illegal drugs in 2009. That's the highest level since the survey began in 2002.

The study also tracked a surge in ecstasy and methamphetamine use, but found a sharp increase in marijuana use, which researchers found rose by 8 percent and remained the most commonly used drug.

Dr. Joseph Lee sees the pain behind those numbers, and calls it an epidemic. As a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Hazelden's Center for Youth and Families in Plymouth, he treats young adults ages 14-25 struggling with drug addiction and mental illness.

"I would say 95 percent of the kids I personally see are using two or three substances together. It may start with cigarettes and marijuana, but it often goes to prescription drugs -- things like Oxycontin and Adderall, and eventually gets to experimentation with harder drugs like cocaine and heroin," said Lee.

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