Thursday, March 18, 2010

Report: Smoking in Decline while Alcohol, Drug Use Hold Steady

USA Today

A new report on substance abuse and mental health shows a small percentage of people are kicking smoking while alcohol and illicit drug-use levels remain steady.

But the report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, out Thursday, also carries home the message that while all states have problems, there are big variations across the U.S. For instance, the rate of illicit drug use in Iowa (5.2%) among the 12 and older set is less than half what it is in Rhode Island (12.5%).

Many of the trends are similar to past studies, according to Art Hughes, one of the report's lead statisticians, but he cited "the adverse relationship between (perception of) risk of use and use itself" as worthy of examining at the state level.

In states where people reported having a perception of great risk about substance abuse, the problem is more often reported at lower levels than in states where risk is not as great a concern, according to the study, based on the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. The 2006-2007 interview data is collected from 135,672 persons and is compared to the 2005-2006 data. Smoking declined from 24.96% to 24.63% with the greatest decrease among 12 to 25 year olds.

"Cigarette use continues to decline," says Hughes. "One statistic we use to try to gauge is the (perceived) risk of smoking cigarettes. If people think it's risky to use cigarettes, we tend to see an opposite effect happening."

For instance, California is among the states with highest percentage of people who regard smoking as a health hazard (77.35%) and had the second lowest smoking rate (19.79%) behind Utah (17.51%). Utah's perception of risk was slightly lower (76.93%) than California's. Nationwide, a slight drop was recorded compared to 2005-2006 (74.14% vs 73.86%). West Virginia, on the other hand, has the highest rate of cigarette users of all states (31.10%) for people aged 12 and older and has the lowest perception of risk level associated with smoking (67.88%). Oklahoma and Tennessee, which ranked No. 2 and 3 behind West Virginia for percentages of smokers, were also among states with lowest perception of risk.

"We're painfully aware of the problem," said Teresa Mace, media director of West Virginia's Office of Community Health Systems and Health Promotion. "We have a state tobacco quit line and other kinds of cessation programs that are offered to all West Virginians. We've gotten a lot better at getting our message to the people who need to know but it's hard to match the amounts spent by the tobacco industry."

Colorado is the only state showing an increase in tobacco use (from 26.5% to 29.8%) while seven states had declines: Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New York, Utah and West Virginia. The Northeast region had a decrease as well (from 28.1% to 27.1%). Overall, national rates changed only slightly (24.6%) from the 2005-2006 report (25%).

Alcohol still leads tobacco as the most commonly used substance. The perceived risk associated with binge drinking (having five or more drinks once or twice a week) also played a role in levels of drinking and binge drinking among underage drinkers. North Dakota, which ranked highest in both categories, ranked a lowly 47th among states in perception of risk.

Drinking for the group of people over the age of 12 had similar results. New Hampshire, which ranked No. 3 behind Rhode Island and Connecticut, had the lowest percentage (33.21%) of perception of risk. Rhode Island and Connecticut also ranked among the lowest 10.

"We produce this as a reference document for the states, " says Joe Gfroerer, director of the division of population surveys. "It can lead to more in-depth analysis and discussion about whether drug treatment centers within the states can help with problems."

Rhode Island had the highest percentage of persons aged 12 or older who were needing but not receiving treatment for illicit drug use. The other states that ranked highest for needing but not receiving treatment for alcohol problems or drug rehab were mostly midwestern (Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin) or westerm (Colorado, Montana and Wyoming.) The District of Columbia and Massachusetts are in the top 10.


The new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration captures states or jurisdictions with the highest and lowest levels of substance abuse. States in the top 5 and bottom 5 of various categories:

Illicit drug use in past month

• Rhode Island: 12.5%
• District of Columbia: 12.13%
• Vermont: 11.49%
• Colorado: 10.96%
• Alaska: 10.74%

• Iowa: 5.2%
• North Dakota: 6.2%
• Utah: 6.43%
• South Carolina: 6.55%
• Texas: 6.65%

Marijuana use in past year

• Rhode Island: 16.12%
• Vermont: 15.75%
• District of Columbia: 15.72%
• New Hampshire: 13.82%
• Alaska: 13.79%

Lowest marijuana use:
• Utah: 7.12%
• Mississippi: 7.79%
• Texas: 7.92%
• Alabama: 7.96%
• Oklahoma: 8.51%

Cocaine use in the past year

• District of Columbia: 5.10%
• Rhode Island: 4.11%
• Arizona: 3.18%
• Colorado: 3.15%
• Massachusetts: 2.99%

• Mississippi: 1.63%
• Idaho/South Dakota/North Dakota: 1.73%
• Oklahoma: 1.86%
• New Jersey: 1.88%
• Nebraska: 1.9%

Alcohol use in past month

• Rhode Island: 63.05%
• Connecticut: 62.17%
• New Hampshire: 61.92%
• Wisconsin: 61.54%
• Minnesota: 60.71%

• Utah: 30.85%.Mississippi: 36.95%
• West Virginia: 36.98%
• Alabama: 39.84%
• Tennessee: 40.22%

Binge alcohol use in past month

• North Dakota: 32.02%
• Wisconsin: 28.84%
• Minnesota: 28.75%
• District of Columbia: 28.64%
• South Dakota: 28.34%

• Utah: 15.64%
• Mississippi: 18.74%
• Alabama: 18.77%
• West Virginia: 18.79%
• Tennessee: 19.19%

Cigarette use in past month

• West Virginia: 31.10%
• Oklahoma: 30.64%
• Kentucky: 30.36%
• Tennessee: 30.48%
• Arkansas: 29.78%

• Utah: 17.51%
• California: 19.79%
• Hawaii: 20.57%
• Connecticut: 20.96%
• Massachusetts: 21.35%

Source: State Estimates of Substance Abuse from 2006-2007, National Surveys on Drug Use and Health

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