Drugs, Uses & Influences on Perception

Perceived Problematic Frequency of Use

  • Frequency of use for un-prescribed marijuana was the most controversial, with opinions differing between addiction status, regions, and age. In fact, it was the only substance that the regions did not agree about when it came to problematic frequency of use.
  • 2 demographics were most polarized in their views on problematic frequency of use for prescribed vs. un-prescribed marijuana: those who have not struggled with an addiction nor do they have a loved one who has struggled, and the Midwest.
    • When it comes to un-prescribed marijuana use, these demographics indicated that “any use is problematic,” but for prescribed marijuana use, these demographics indicated most popularly that “any use would NOT be problematic, no matter how frequent.”
  • Addiction Status was the only demographic breakdown for which perceived problematic frequency of alcohol use differed. Those who have struggled with an addiction indicated that “several times a week” is a problematic frequency of alcohol use. Their counterparts who haven’t struggled, along with all other demographics (Age, Region, Education Level, Gender), unanimously agreed that a problematic frequency is higher, at “several times a day.”
  • Gender and Education Level were the only demographics for which there were no differences in opinion for problematic frequency of use for any substances (i.e. differences in Addiction Status, Age, and Region are likelier to affect differences in perceived problematic frequency of substance use than differences in Gender and Education Level).
  • Problematic frequency of use is not particularly controversial when it comes to any federally illegal substances. All respondents of all demographics most commonly indicated that “any use is problematic” for all these substances. However, when it comes to condemning all federally illegal substance use as problematic, the strictest demographics are women (avg. 68.1%), older adults (avg. 70.6%), and Midwesterners (avg. 70.2%).

Perceived Importance of Law Enforcement Regarding Use

  • Those who have struggled with an addiction differ strongly in their opinion on the importance of law enforcement surrounding both prescribed and un-prescribed marijuana from those who have not personally struggled.
    • Those who have struggled indicated a more even distribution of opinions on the matter, ultimately indicating that law enforcement was “not at all important” for prescribed (32.0%) or un-prescribed (26.2%) marijuana.
    • Their counterparts who have not struggled with an addiction indicated most commonly that laws surrounding prescribed and un-prescribed marijuana were in fact “very important.”
      • Within this group, those who have had a loved one struggle with addiction were more lenient (43.7% un-prescribed, 26.2% prescribed) than those who have not (47.2% un-prescribed, 40.3% prescribed).
  • While the 3 groups of respondents agree that it’s very important that laws surrounding use of all federally illegal substances are enforced, those who have a loved one who struggled with an addiction feel more strongly about this than those who have struggled with an addiction. On average, 80% of those of have a loved one who struggled with an addiction share this view, while the rate is 62% among those who have struggled with an addiction.
  • The genders agree on importance of law enforcement regarding all substances, ultimately indicating that law enforcement for every single substance is “very important.”
  • Young adults (18-34), adults (35-54), and older adults (55+), all agree that law enforcement for all substances is “very important,” however for prescribed marijuana, young adults reported an equal number of responses for both ends of the spectrum: “not at all important” (25.2%) and “very important” (25.2%).
  • While all age groups agree that law enforcement for all substances is “very important,” older adults are much stricter in their collective opinion, indicating “very important” for 75.6% of responses while young adults indicated “very important” for 58.4% of responses.
    • Young adults had a more even distribution of responses when it came to the importance of law enforcement surrounding alcohol use in particular.
  • When it comes to opinions regarding the importance of law enforcement for all substances, level of education is not a predictor.
  • When it comes to opinions regarding the importance of law enforcement for all substances, geographical region is not a predictor.

Initial Information Source Trends

  • Those who have struggled with addiction most commonly first learned information about cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and hallucinogens from peers. Those who have not struggled all most commonly first learned about these substances in school. The only exception to this trend:
    • Those who have a loved one who has struggled also most commonly first learned about cocaine from peers.
  • All respondents, regardless of addiction status, first learned about marijuana in school and from peers. School is the slightly more popular source for all addiction status groups.
  • All respondents, regardless of addiction status, first learned about alcohol at home/from a relative.
  • Men and women demonstrated no differences in their most popular sources of initial exposure to information about alcohol, marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine.
  • Women were slightly more likely to first learn about cocaine and hallucinogens from peers, while men’s most popular first source of information about cocaine and hallucinogens was in school.
  • At home/from a relative was the most popular source of initial exposure to alcohol for both men and women. However, this source skewed more popular for women (59.8%) than for men (48.6%), who had a more even distribution across other sources.
  • Young adults, adults, and older adults all were most likely to first learn about alcohol at home/from a relative.
  • Young adults, adults, and older adults were all most likely to first learn about marijuana in school, closely followed by from peers.
  • When it comes to information about cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, young adults and adults were most likely to gain their first exposure in school. For older adults (55+), however, the most popular initial source was their peers.
  • Adults and older adults were most likely to learn about hallucinogens from peers, while young adults were more likely to gain their first exposure to information about hallucinogens in school.
  • Every single demographic (addiction status, gender, age, education level, and region) had differences within the demographic category when it came to receiving initial exposure to information about hallucinogens.
    • School was the most popular initial source of information about hallucinogens for those who have not struggled with an addiction, men, young adults, those with more formal education, the Northeast, and the Midwest.
    • Peers was the most popular initial source of information about hallucinogens for those who have struggled with an addiction, women, adults and older adults, those with less extensive formal education, the South and the West.
  • Regardless of level of formal education, respondents were most likely to first learn about alcohol at home/from a relative
  • Regardless of level of formal education, respondents were most likely to first learn about marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine in school.
  • Those with more completed levels of formal education (degree beyond high school or HS-equivalent) were likelier to first learn about cocaine and hallucinogens in school, while those with less formal education were likelier to first learn about these substances from peers.
  • Respondents in the Northeast, South, and West were most likely to first learn information about alcohol at home/from a relative, while respondents in the Midwest were most likely to first learn information about alcohol in school.
    • The Midwest is the only demographic in any category (addiction status, gender, education level, geographic region) to not first learn about alcohol at home/from a relative.
  • Those in the West were most likely to first learn about cocaine from peers (43.5%) while those in the Northeast, Midwest, and South were all most likely to first learn about cocaine in school (34.4%, 33.6%, and 28.0%, respectively).
  • Respondents from all regions of the US were most likely to first learn information about heroin and methamphetamine in school.