Health Status > Health Behaviors
Illicit Drug Use
Illicit drugs are associated with serious health
consequences including addiction. Drugs classified as illicit are
marijuana/hashish, cocaine, inhalants, hallucinogens, crack, and
prescription-type psychotherapeutic drugs used for non-medical purposes.
In 2004, a total of 12.5 million women (11.2 percent) aged 18 or
older reported using an illicit drug within the last year. The past-year
illicit drug use rate was significantly higher among women aged
18-25 than among women over age 25 (29.9 percent compared to 8.1
percent). Among adolescent females aged 12-17, 21.5 percent reported
using illicit drugs in the past year. When stratified by race, illicit
drug use among adolescent females was more common among non-Hispanic
Whites (22.9 percent) than Hispanics (22.1 percent) or non-Hispanic
Blacks (17.6 percent).
In 2004, marijuana was the illicit drug most commonly used by females
in all age groups. Among females, those aged 18-25 had the highest
rate of past-year marijuana use (23.7 percent). The second most
common type of illicit drugs used in the past year by women aged
18-25 was prescription-type psychotherapeutic drugs used for non-medical
purposes-these were used by 13.4 percent of women aged 18-25 years.
Adolescent females’ drug use patterns differed from those
of adult women. Those aged 12-17 reported the highest rate of inhalant
use (4.7 percent) compared to their older counterparts.
In 2003 and 2004, 4.6 percent of pregnant women
aged 15 to 44 years reported using illicit drugs in the month prior
to their survey interview. Among the subgroup of 15- to 17-year-old
pregnant youth, approximately one in six, or 16.0 percent, reported
illicit drug use in the past month. This represents a 25 percent
increase from a rate of 12.8 percent among this age group in the
2002-03 period. The rate was the same among non-pregnant women in
this 15- to 17-year-old age group, while among women aged 18 years
and older, the rate of illegal drug use in the last month was much
lower among pregnant women than their non-pregnant counterparts.
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The health consequences of smoking: a report of the Surgeon General.