In 2009, some 10 percent of youth ages 12 to 17 and 21 percent of young adults ages 18 to 25 reported using an illicit drug in the past month (i.e., recent use). Additionally, 15 percent of youth and 62 percent of young adults drank alcohol, and 9 percent of youth and 42 percent of young adults reported engaging in "binge drinking" (drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion) in the past month. Young adults had higher reported rates of recent substance use than youth in 2009 for all substances except inhalants; in that year, 1 percent of youth had used inhalants in the past month, compared with 0.4 percent of young adults. The reported rates for drinking alcohol, binge drinking, and smoking cigarettes in the past month were about four times higher for young adults than for youth in 2009.
Between 1995 and 2009, declines in substance abuse among youth were found for cocaine, alcohol, and cigarettes. Reports of recent cigarette use among youth declined from 20 to 9 percent between 1995 and 2009. Recent use of alcohol among youth declined from 21 to 15 percent; however, there was no measurable change in the percentage of youth who reported marijuana use or binge drinking. In contrast to the patterns for youth, there were no measurable changes between 1995 and 2009 in the percentages of young adults who reported recent cigarette or alcohol use. However, the percentage of young adults who reported using marijuana in the past month increased during this period (from 12 to 18 percent), as did the percentage of young adults who reported binge drinking in the past month (from 30 to 42 percent). In addition, there was an increase between 1995 and 2009 in the percentage of young adults who reported recent use of illicit drugs (from 14 to 21 percent) and between 2000 and 2009 in the use of psychotherapeutic drugs (from 4 to 6 percent).