U.S. illicit drug use 2009-11 highest since 2002

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Illicit drug use rates among Americans age 12 and older from 2009 through 2011 were among the highest since data became available in 2002, U.S. officials say.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported an estimated 22.5 million Americans age 12 or older — representing 8.7 percent of the population age 12 or older — were illicit drug users in 2011.

Illicit drug use endangers public health and safety and depletes financial resources, and the scale of the problem has not improved over the past decade, the Government Accountability Office said in a letter to Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, heads of the U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

For example, the Department of Justice’s National Drug Intelligence Center estimated the economic impact of illicit drug use — including the costs of healthcare, crime and lost productivity — was more than $193 billion in 2007.

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