Gender Differences In Drug Use

In 2007, black males aged 18 to 25 were more likely than females to report marijuana as their primary substance of abuse (62.8 vs. 49.5 percent); however, females were three times more likely than males to report smoked cocaine as their primary substance of abuse (12.6 vs. 4.2 percent)

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More than two thirds (69.5 percent) of young adult black male admissions were referred to treatment by the criminal justice system, compared to only about one third (35.7 percent) of female admissions

More than half of all young adult black admissions had not completed high school or obtained a GED (50.9 percent for males and 55.1 percent for females) and most were either unemployed (42.5 percent for males and 43.4 percent for females) or not in the labor force (30.1 percent for males and 38.4 percent for females)

As the proportion of racial/ethnic minority groups within the United States continues to increase, it is important that public health professionals understand the specific characteristics and substance abuse behaviors of these populations. Of particular interest are blacks, who are the second largest racial/ethnic minority group in the United States.

Although they comprise approximately 12.2 percent of the total population, this group represented more than one fifth (20.7 percent) of substance abuse treatment admissions with known race/ethnicity that were in publicly funded treatment programs in 2007. Combined 2007-2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data indicate that among Blacks, adults between the ages of 18 and 25 have the highest rates of past month illicit drug use (19.7 percent) and past year need for treatment (15.2 percent) compared to other age groups. Among Blacks aged 18 to 25 who were in need of substance abuse treatment in the past year, only 5.5 percent received treatment at a specialty facility.

Data from the 2007 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) can be used to examine Black substance abuse treatment admissions. This report focuses on gender differences for admissions aged 18 to 25. Of the approximately 48,500 Black admissions in this age group, about 34,000 were male and 14,500 were female.

For more information, visit SAMHSA.