Self-Reported and Official Estimates of National Trends in Illegal Drug Use for Different Gender-Race-Age Groups, 1979-2001

Hua (Sara) Zhong, The Pennsylvania State University
Darrell Steffensmeier, The Pennsylvania State University

Prior research on trends in illegal drug use has seldom examined whether the trends vary, both separately and in combination, across (i) gender, race, and age comparisons and (ii) by drug-type. In this paper, we examine almost 25-year trend lines (roughly late 1970s thru early 2000s) in use/distribution of marijuana, cocaine, narcotics (heroin), and other illicit rugs broken out by different gender-race-age groups. The analysis compares the results based on both official arrest data (Uniform Crime Report) and self-report survey data (National Household Survey on Drug Abuse). Both are long-term continuous sources of information on illegal drug use that also contains matchable measures of gender, race, and age. The factual material of these trends will be presented both in a straightforward fashion (e.g., rates and relevant female percentage) and also examined by time series and logistic regression techniques. Our preliminary analysis reveals fluctuations in both female and male rates of illegal drug use over this time period but very little change in the female percentage of use/distribution. This finding holds across most drug types and gender-race-age comparisons.

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Updated 05/20/2006