For those who think Missouri is home to a bunch of meth-makers, heroin addicts and beer swillers, the most recent national statistics out of Washington show that, surprisingly, this is far from being true. In fact, when crunching the latest data for both drugs and alcohol, Missouri ranks either in the middle or low- to mid-range in nearly all categories.
Last Friday the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration put out its annual state-by-state estimates of drug use and mental disorders. The data were compiled between 2007 and 2009, based on health surveys.
The survey administrators break things down into five major drug groups: all illicit drugs, marijuana, cocaine/crack, non-medical pain meds and "all non-marijuana illicit drugs." Alcohol use is also measured across several categories. The data were analyzed across four age groups: 12-17; 18-25; 26 and over; and 12 and over.
While Missouri never inched very far above average in any of these categories, it did rank among the lowest ten states in the following categories: illicit drug use in past month among kids 12 to 17; non-marijuana drug use in the past month among kids 12 to 17; non-medical pain-medication use in the past year among people 26 and older; alcohol dependence in past year among people 12 and older; and illicit-drug dependence in past year among people 12 and older.
In addition, Missouri is one of only six states to show a decrease from 2007 to 2009 when measuring alcohol use in the past month among people 12 to 20.
The only two categories in which Missouri placed significantly above average was in cocaine/crack use in the past year among individuals aged 18 to 25 and illicit-drug dependence in the past year among the 12-17 age group.
We also do worse than average in terms of getting kids aged 12 to 17 into treatment for alcohol abuse.
The study also measured tobacco use, and Missouri is still among the leaders of the pack (no pun intended) in nearly all of those subcategories.
Finally, the study measured the state of the nation's mental health. Missouri does not fare well at all here. More on this in a later post.
More national findings of note:
In 2008-2009, 8.4 percent of the U.S. population aged 12 or older had used an illicit drug in the past month, up .4 percent from the previous year the study was conducted. (In Alaska, that number soars to 13.5 percent.)
That said, illicit drug use among persons aged 12 to 17 has decreased from 11.4 percent in 2003 to 9.7 percent in 2009 and has not changed among other age groups.
Nationwide, 10.8 percent of persons aged 12 or older reported marijuana use in the past year, which was an increase from 10.2 percent in 2007-2008.
The national estimate of past month use of illicit drugs other than marijuana among persons aged 12 or older was 3.5 percent.
The prevalence of past year cocaine use among persons aged 12 or older went down from the last study, from 2.2 percent to 2 percent.
4.8 percent of persons aged 12 or older reported having used pain relievers non-medically in the past year.