updated 9/6/2007 7:22:15 AM ET 2007-09-06T11:22:15

The rate of illicit drug use remained stable last year in the United States, but there could be a resurgence in the use of ecstasy and LSD among young adults, the federal government reported Thursday.

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Bush administration officials said Thursday that overall drug use trends are encouraging, particularly for youth. About 9.8 percent of those ages 12-17 acknowledged drug use in the past month, a level comparable to the year before. However, that’s a significant drop from the 11.6 percent who acknowledged drug use back in 2002.

The government conducts an annual survey of about 67,500 people to monitor drug use in the United States as well as the use of tobacco and alcohol. About 14.6 million people ages 12 and older used marijuana in the past month, while 9.6 million used illicit drugs other than marijuana.

The use of hallucinogens among youth remained stable last year, the survey indicated. But there was a statistically significant increase in the use of ecstasy among those ages 18 to 25. In that camp, 3.8 percent reported the use of ecstasy within the past year. The year before, 3.1 percent acknowledged ecstasy use.

'Very easy' to get pot
The report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said that the estimates on ecstasy and LSD should not be considered conclusive. Nevertheless, the consistency of results from two independent surveys “serves as evidence of a possible increase in hallucinogen use.”

Most adult drug users in the United States work, but the rate of drug use is much higher among the unemployed. The rate of drug usage for the unemployed is 18.5 percent. It’s 8.8 percent for full-time workers.

The survey indicated that youth today are more cognizant of the risk of drug use as well as cigarettes than they were four years ago. Still, about half of youths ages 12 to 17 reported that it would be “fairly easy” or “very easy” for them to obtain marijuana. A quarter said it would be easy to get cocaine.

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