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What percentage of women and girls use drugs?

Women in the U.S. largely use and abuse legal drugs, such as alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs. Despite the attention given to illegal drugs, far fewer women and girls use them.

Here is a closer look at drug use by women and girls:

  • Alcohol: Alcohol is the drug most commonly used by women (used by 45 percent of girls and women over the age of twelve). Fifteen percent of women in this age range report current binge drinking (five or more drinks on one occasion), and 3 percent report even heavier alcohol use.
  • Tobacco: About 21 percent of women smoke, but this can vary depending on age, race/ethnicity, income, education, occupation, sexual orientation, and mental and physical ability.
  • Mood-Altering Prescription Drugs: Medications such as pain relievers, sedatives, stimulants, and tranquilizers can be used in nonmedical ways. A 2002 survey found that almost three percent of girls and women in the U.S. aged twelve or older had used mood-altering prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons in the previous month.
  • Illegal Drugs: In 2002, 6 percent of girls and women in the U.S. aged twelve or older were current users of illegal drugs. Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug: four percent of girls and women over the age of twelve reported current use of marijuana. Under one percent of girls and women reported being current users of cocaine, Ecstasy, heroin, and other illegal drugs.
Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

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Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

America's best-selling book on all aspects of women's health With more than four million copies sold, "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is "the" classic resource that women of all ages can turn to for...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.