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DAWN, PRIDE Surveys Show Increases in Cocaine, Marijuana Use


December 1995

Recent data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) shows that emergency room admissions attributed to cocaine reached the highest level ever since the collection of the statistics (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, "Preliminary Estimates from the Drug Abuse Warning Network," Advance Report Number 11, November 1995).

There were approximately 142,410 reported cocaine-related emergency room visits in 1994, a 15% increase over 1993 and a 40% increase over 1990. Visits attributed to marijuana or hashish increased 39% between 1993 and 1994, rising from 28,873 to 40,101. Heroin-related visits remained at a steady level, with 64,221 in 1994 and 63,232 in 1993.

For all drugs, visits increased 10% in the past year, rising from 460,910 to 508,895. The most common recorded reason people were admitted to the emergency room for drugs was an overdose, and the most common "motive" for the admission was a suicide attempt.

The DAWN survey is conducted every year by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Data for the survey are collected through an examination of a random sample of hospitals' records.

In the fourth annual survey of students in elementary and high school, the National Parents' Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE) found use of almost all drugs rose slightly in the past year.

PRIDE warned that parents are not talking to their children about drugs. 34% of students said their parents do not regularly talk to them about drugs, and 33% said parents do not set clear rules. These students were more likely to say they had used drugs, regardless of the age of the student or the type of drug used.

The greatest increase in drug use between the 1993-94 and 1994-95 school year was found for marijuana. For junior high school students, marijuana use once in the past year rose from 8.2% to 9.5%, and for highschoolers from 24.6% to 28.2%.

Rates of alcohol use are still very high, with 33.3% of high school students reporting drinking beer in the last month. Statistics on use of liquor and cigarettes are equally high.

PRIDE surveyed 198,241 students in the 1994-1995 school year in 32 states.

[To obtain a copy of the DAWN report, contact SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, Parklawn Building, Room 16C-06, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857, 301-443-7980. To obtain a copy of the survey of students, contact PRIDE at 166 St. Charles Street, Bowling Green, KY 42101. Tel: (800) 279-6361. Fax: (270) 746-9598. Web:]