National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA-1982)

Parent 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 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.

Study Details:
This series measures the prevalence and correlates of drug use in the United States. The surveys are designed to provide quarterly, as well as annual, estimates. Information is provided on the use of illicit drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and nonmedical use of prescription drugs among members of United States households aged 12 and older. Questions include age at first use, as well as lifetime, annual, and past-month usage for the following drug classes: cannabis, cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, alcohol, tobacco, and nonmedical use of prescription drugs, including psychotherapeutics. Respondents were also asked about problems resulting from their use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, their perceptions of the risks involved, and personal and family income sources and amounts. Half of the respondents were asked questions regarding substance use by close friends. Demographic data include gender, race, age, ethnicity, educational level, job status, income level, veteran status, household composition, and population density. Youth respondents were also asked about time spent on homework and leisure activities.

Study Scope

Time period: 
Collection date: 
Geographic coverage : 
United States
Unit of observation: 
Data types: 
survey data
The civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the coterminous United States (Alaska and Hawaii excluded) aged 12 and older.
Data were collected by Response Analysis Corporation, Princeton, NJ, under contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The data and codebook were prepared for release by Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle Park, NC, and the codebook was initially distributed by National Opinion Research Center, Chicago, IL, under contracts with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
For selected variables, statistical imputation was done following logical imputation to replace missing responses. These variables are identified by the designation "IMPUTATION-REVISED" in the variable label, and the names of these variables begin with the letters "IR". For each imputation-revised variable there is a corresponding imputation indicator variable that indicates whether a case's value on the variable resulted from an interview response, logical imputation, or statistical imputation. The names of imputation indicator variables begin with the letters "II".
Data were weighted based on two weight factors required in the sampling plan. The product of the sampling weight factors is equal to the inverse of each respondent's selection probability. Adjustments were made to compensate for nonresponse and sampling error. Adjustments also included a poststratification to Census population estimates.
To protect the confidentiality of respondents, all variables that could be used to identify individuals have been encrypted or collapsed in the public use file. These modifications should not affect analytic uses of the public use file.
Some frequencies related to interview information detailed on page 79 of the codebook (FINLRES1, VSADLTCM, PHADLTCM, VSYTHCM, PHYTHCM) reflect overlapping records. For example, although "Adult/Youth" (ADULTYTH) indicates that 4,043 adults were interviewed, "Final Adult Result" (FINLRES1) indicates that an adult interview was completed in 4,706 cases. Crosstabulation of these variables revealed that adult interviews were completed in 663 youth cases. This apparently represents households in which both an adult and a youth were interviewed.
For some drugs that have multiple names, questions regarding the use of that drug may be asked for each distinct name. For example, the use of methedrine and desoxyn are measured separately in this study even though they are both methamphetamine.
Subject Terms: 
  • alcohol
  • alcohol abuse
  • alcohol consumption
  • amphetamines
  • barbiturates
  • cocaine
  • demographic characteristics
  • drug abuse
  • drug use
  • drugs
  • hallucinogens
  • heroin
  • households
  • marijuana
  • methamphetamine
  • prescriptions drugs
  • sedatives
  • smoking
  • stimulants
  • substance abuse
  • substance abuse treatment
  • tobacco use
  • tranquilizers
  • youths

Study Methodology

Mode of data collection: 
personal interviews and self-enumerated answer sheets (drug use)
Multistage area probability sample design involving five selection stages: (a) primary areas (e.g., counties), (b) subareas within primary areas (geographic area of approximately 2,500 population in 1970), (c) housing units within subareas, (d) age group domains within listed units, and (e) members of households within sampled age groups. The two race classifications were: White, and Black/other. The three age groups were: youth (age 12 to 17), young adult (age 18 to 34), and older adult (age 35 and older). Each age group was sampled separately, and the probability of selection decreased with the prospective respondent's age. One youth and/or one adult could be chosen per household. The basic national sample was supplemented by a sample of residents of rural areas. The overall interview completion rate was 81 percent.
Response rates: 
  • The interview completion rates for the three age groups were: 84 percent for youth, 81 percent for young adults, and 77 percent for older adults.
  • 2015-02-03: Created a separate Questionnaire PDF that was extracted from the Codebook PDF.
  • 2013-06-19: Updated variable-level ddi files released.
  • 2008-06-18: New files were added. These files included one or more of the following: Stata setup, SAS transport (CPORT), SPSS system, Stata system, SAS supplemental syntax, and Stata supplemental syntax files, and tab-delimited ASCII data file. Also added variable CASEID to the dataset.
  • 1999-05-12: SAS and SPSS data definition statements have been updated to include value labels and missing values sections.
Extent of processing: 
  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.