Sociology of Drug Use
Patterns in Drug Use
PATTERNS IN DRUG USE
Two of the largest, most nationally representative, and most valid drug use surveys are conducted in the United States: the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, based on a sample of the population as a whole (SAMHSA 2004), and the Monitoring the Future surveys, based on eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders, college students, and adults not in college of age 19 to 45. The results of these two yearly surveys, verified by others conducted in other countries, support the following generalizations or patterns in drug use.
The first pattern is that for all illicit drugs, experimental use is the rule. Most of the people who try a given illicit drug do not use it regularly; most in fact discontinue its use. The circle circumscribed by the universe of everyone who has ever taken a given drug at least once in their lives is much larger than the circle circumscribed by everyone who has taken it during the previous month.
The second pattern is that for all illicit drugs, irregular, episodic, occasional use is more common than heavy, chronic, compulsive abuse. The circle circumscribed by everyone who has used a given drug, say, less frequently than once a week in the past year is larger than the circle circumscribed by everyone who has used that drug more than 20 times a month-that is, more than 240 times in the past year.
The third pattern is that the use of the legal drugs , alcohol and tobacco, is vastly greater than the use of the illegal drugs. According to the most recent (2003) National Survey on Drug Use and Health, half of all Americans had consumed at least one alcoholic drink in the past month (50.1 percent)...