National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)

Years Available
Periodically since 1971; annually since 1990.
Mode of Collection
Sample survey: in-person interviews plus audio computer-assisted self-administered interviews for sensitive items.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) is the primary source of statistical information on the use of tobacco, alcohol, prescription psychotherapeutic drugs (pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives), and other substances (e.g., marijuana, cocaine) by the U.S. civilian, noninstitutionalized population ages 12 years and older. The survey also includes several series of questions focusing on mental health issues. The NSDUH collects data through face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of the population at the respondent's place of residence, including households and non-institutional group quarters (e.g., shelters, rooming houses, dormitories). The survey excludes homeless people who do not use shelters, military personnel on active duty, and residents of institutional group quarters, such as jails and hospitals.
Selected Content
Use of illicit drugs, the nonmedical use of prescription psychotherapeutic drugs, and use of alcohol and tobacco products; dependence and abuse involving drugs and alcohol; mental health problems; and treatment of substance abuse and mental health problems.
Population Covered
U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population ages 12 years and older.
NSDUH employs a stratified multistage area probability sample designed to be representative of both the nation as a whole and for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The 2018 NSDUH annual target sample size of 67,500 interviews was distributed across three age groups, with 25 percent allocated to adolescents ages 12 to 17 years, 25 percent allocated to young adults ages 18 to 25 years, and 50 percent allocated to adults ages 26 years and older. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish, as appropriate. If the sampled person did not speak either of these languages, the interview was not conducted. The NSDUH is a face-to-face household interview survey conducted in two phases: the screening phase and the interview phase. The interviewer conducts a screening of the sampled household with an adult resident (ages 18 and older) in order to determine whether zero, 1, or 2 residents ages 12 and older should be selected for the interview. NSDUH collects data using audio computer-assisted self-interviewing (ACASI) in which respondents read or listen to the questions on headphones, then enter their answers directly into a NSDUH laptop computer. ACASI is designed for accurate reporting of information by providing respondents with a highly private and confidential mode for responding to questions about illicit drug use, mental health, and other sensitive behaviors. NSDUH also uses computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) in which interviewers read less sensitive questions to respondents and enter the respondents' answers into a NSDUH laptop computer. Post-interview, the data are edited, and missing values for most variables are imputed using standard imputation procedures. Weights are assigned to reflect the sample design.
Response Rates and Sample Size
In 2018, screening was completed at 141,879 addresses, and 67,791 completed interviews were obtained, including 16,852 interviews from adolescents ages 12 to 17 years and 50,939 interviews from adults ages 18 years and older. Weighted response rates for household screening and for interviewing were 73.3% and 66.6%, respectively, for an overall response rate of 48.8% for people ages 12 and older. The weighted interview response rates were 73.9% for adolescents and 65.8% for adults.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Methodological summary and definitions. Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.