The growing popularity of marijuana has propelled a rise in drug use among Americans, including those in their 50s and 60s, a recently released national survey shows.
Marijuana remains the most common drug, and it increased in popularity from 2007 to 2012, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found. Rising marijuana use helped drive up drug use among young adults, more than a fifth of whom said they had used "illicit drugs" in the previous month. Almost 19% of adults ages 18 to 25 had recently used marijuana.
Drug use also rose among adults ages 50 to 64, the study found. The surge was especially strong among Americans in their late 50s, whose rates of illicit drug use grew from 1.9% up to 6.6% between 2002 and 2012. Researchers believe the increase is largely because baby boomers, who were more likely to use drugs than earlier generations, are aging into that group.
Marijuana use has increased as legalization wins more support from Americans, with a majority telling the Pew Research Center in a poll this year that the drug should be legal. Though marijuana use was on the rise, many other drugs have dwindled in use or stayed about the same: Cocaine was less common in 2012 than in 2006, when only 1% of Americans said they had used it in the last month. Less than 640,000 people said they had started using it in the last year, compared with 1 million new users a decade earlier.