THURSDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Illegal drug use in the United States increased from 2008 to 2009, federal drug officials reported Thursday, citing growing acceptance of marijuana and an upswing in ecstasy and methamphetamine use.
Driven largely by growing use of marijuana, drug use among those aged 12 and older rose from 8 percent in 2008 to 8.7 percent in 2009, according to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This represents the highest usage in nearly a decade, officials said.
"The results of the survey, to say the least, are very troubling," Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said during a morning news conference Thursday.
"Particularly disturbing [is] the increase in the use of marijuana among 12- to 17-year-olds," he added. In 2002, 8.2 percent of teens smoked marijuana, 6.7 percent did in 2006 and 2008, and 7.3 percent did in 2009, the report found.
Fewer teens today than in the past see drugs, particularly marijuana, as dangerous, he said: "This usually portends an increase in drug abuse, and that's exactly what we have seen."
Kerlikowske took aim at the media for influencing some of the cultural mind-shift. "I can absolutely not rule out this constant discussion of so-called medical marijuana, marijuana legalization and the downplaying of marijuana harms that is prevalent in the media," he said.
The report, based on a survey of some 67,500 people throughout the country, noted non-medical use of prescription drugs rose from 2.5 percent in 2008 to 2.8 percent in 2009.
Monthly use of ecstasy climbed from 555,000 in 2008 to 760,000 in 2009. The number of methamphetamine users shot up, too, from 314,000 to 502,000 over the year, according to the report.
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