National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2017 (NSDUH-2017-DS0001)

Study Series details:


The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) series, formerly titled National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, is a major source of statistical information on the use of illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco and on mental health issues among members of the U.S. civilian, non-institutional population aged 12 or older. The survey tracks trends in specific substance use and mental illness measures and assesses the consequences of these conditions by examining mental and/or substance use disorders and treatment for these disorders.

Examples of uses of NSDUH data include the identification of groups at high risk for initiation of substance use and issues among those with co-occurring substance use disorders and mental illness.

NSDUH public-use data files are available for download in SAS, SPSS, STATA and ASCII formats, and online analysis with SDA. NSDUH restricted-use data files are available for online analysis with the R-DAS.

The NSDUH is sponsored by the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (formerly Office of Applied Studies), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. For more information, visit the NSDUH website.

NSDUH State and Substate Estimates

The following links provide more information about the NSDUH state and substate estimates:

1999-2015 NSDUH Small Area Estimation


NSDUH Variable Crosswalk Charts


NSDUH Reports and Detailed Tables

NSDUH Questionnaire Details

The population of the NSDUH series is the general civilian population aged 12 and older in the United States. Questions include age at first use, as well as lifetime, annual, and past-month usage for the following drugs: alcohol, marijuana, cocaine (including crack), hallucinogens, heroin, inhalants, tobacco, pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives. The survey covers substance abuse treatment history and perceived need for treatment, and includes questions from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders that allow diagnostic criteria to be applied.

Respondents were also asked about personal and family income sources and amounts, health care access and coverage, illegal activities and arrest record, problems resulting from the use of drugs, perceptions of risks, and needle-sharing. Demographic data include gender, race, age, ethnicity, educational level, job status, income level, veteran status, household composition, and population density.

The questionnaire was significantly redesigned in 1994. The 1994 survey included for the first time a rural population supplement to allow separate estimates to be calculated for this population. Other modules have been added each year and retained in subsequent years: mental health and access to care (1994-B); risk/availability of drugs (1996); cigar smoking and new questions on marijuana and cocaine use (1997); question series asked only of respondents aged 12 to 17 (1997); questions on tobacco brand (1999); marijuana purchase questions (2001); prior marijuana and cigarette use, additional questions on drug treatment, adult mental health services, and social environment (2003); and adult and adolescent depression questions derived from the National Comorbidity Survey, Replication (NCS-R) and National Comorbidity Survey, Adolescent (NCS-A) (2004).

Survey administration and sample design were improved with the implementation of the 1999 survey, and additional improvements were made in 2002. Since 1999, the survey sample has employed a 50-state design with an independent, multistage area probability sample for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. At this time, the collection mode of the survey changed from personal interviews and self-enumerated answer sheets to using computer-assisted personal interviews and audio computer-assisted self-interviews. In 2002, the survey’s title was officially changed to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

Since 2002, participants are given $30 for participating in the study. This resulted in an increase in participation rates from the years prior to 2002. Also, in 2002 and 2011, the new population data from the 2000 and 2010 decennial Censuses, respectively, became available for use in the sample weighting procedures. For these reasons, data gathered for 2002 and beyond cannot validly be compared to data prior to 2002.

NSDUH underwent a partial redesign in 2015, so there are several measures that “broke trends” in 2015, meaning that estimates from 2015 and later are no longer comparable to their 2014 and earlier counterparts. This also means that you cannot pool data across incomparable years. For affected measures, you will likely only be able to look at the 2002-2014 timeframe to pool enough years of comparable data to get a sufficient sample size at the county level. Measures that were not affected can be pooled through 2015. More information on the partial 2015 redesign and its effects on estimates is available here:

Study details:

The target population for the 2017 survey was the same as has been defined since the 1991 survey: the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the United States (including civilians living on military bases) who were 12 years of age or older at the time of the survey. Before 1991, the sample was drawn from the household population of the contiguous 48 states. Residents of Alaska and Hawaii were added to the sample population in 1991, as were residents of noninstitutional group quarters (e.g., college dormitories, group homes, civilians dwelling on military installations) and persons with no permanent residence (homeless people in shelters and residents of single rooms in hotels). In addition, six special-interest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) were oversampled in 1991. The 1992 and 1993 surveys retained the oversampling of the six MSAs and also were designed to provide quarterly as well as annual estimates.

Since 1999, the survey sample has employed a 50-state design with an independent, multistage area probability sample for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. For the 1999 through 2013 surveys, the 8 states with the largest populations (which together account for 48 percent of the total U.S. population aged 12 or older) were designated as large sample states (California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas) with a target sample size of 3,600, and the remaining 42 states and the District of Columbia had target sample sizes of 900. The 2014 through 2017 sample design allows for a more cost-efficient sample allocation to the largest states, while maintaining sufficient sample sizes in the smaler states to support small area estimation at the state and substate levels. The 2014 through 2017 NSDUHs were designed to yield 4,560 completed interviews in California; 3,300 completed interviews each in Florida, New York, and Texas; 2,400 completed interviews each in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania; 1,500 completed interviews each in Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia; 967 completed interviews in Hawaii; and 960 completed interviews in each of the remaining 37 states and the District of Columbia. Consistent with previous designs, the 2014 through 2017 design also oversamples youths aged 12 to 17 and young adults aged 18 to 25. However, the 2014 through 2017 design places more sample in the 26 or older age groups to more accurately estimate drug use and related mental health measures among the aging population. The 2017 sample was allocated to age groups as follows: 25 percent for youths aged 12 to 17, 25 percent for young adults aged 18 to 25, 15 percent for adults aged 26 to 34, 20 percent for adults aged 35 to 49, and 15 percent for adults aged 50 or older.

Important methodological differences since 2002 also have affected the comparability of estimates from 1999 to 2001 with estimates from 2002 and later years. As noted above, the survey's name was changed from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in 2002. In addition to the survey's name change, each NSDUH respondent since 2002 has been given an incentive of $30. These changes resulted in some improvement in the survey response rate. The changes also affected respondents' reporting of many critical items that are the basis of prevalence measures reported by the survey each year. Further, the data could have been affected by improved data collection quality control procedures that were introduced in the survey beginning in 2001. In addition, new population data from the 2000 decennial census became available for use in NSDUH's sample weighting procedures, resulting in another discontinuity between estimates since 2002 and those prior to 2002. Where estimates in 2017 are still comparable with those from prior years, analyses of the effects of each of these factors on NSDUH estimates have shown that the 2002 to 2017 data should not be compared with 2001 and earlier data to assess changes over time. For measures that are comparable across the years being analyzed, however, comparisons may be made between 2002 and surveys in subsequent years, including this one, as noted above.