Drug Facts – Minorities & Drugs


According to the 2006 American Community Survey, the estimated the population of the United States was 299,398,485. The population breakdown was 73.9% white, 12.4% black/African American, 0.8% American Indian/Alaska Native, 4.4% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander, 6.3% some other race, 2.0% two or more races. An estimated 14.8% of the population was of Hispanic/Latino origin (of any race).

Extent of Use

The 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that the highest rate of current (past month) illicit drug use was among persons reporting two or more races (14.7%), followed by blacks/African Americans (10.1%), American Indian/Alaska Natives (9.5%), whites (8.2%), Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (7.3%); and Hispanics (6.2%). The lowest rate of current illicit drug use was among Asians (3.6%).

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveys high school students on several risk factors including drug and alcohol use. The 2007 report showed that 21.5% of black, 19.9% of white, 18.5% of Hispanic, and 17.2% of “other” race high school students were current marijuana users.

According to 2006 findings from the Monitoring the Future study, African-American 8th, 10th and 12th grade students have substantially lower usage rates for most illicit drugs when compared to white students. Hispanics generally have rates of use for many drugs that tend to fall between usage rates for whites and blacks. However, Hispanic seniors have the highest rate of lifetime usage for powder cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin with and without a needle, methamphetamine, and crystal methamphetamine (“ice”).

According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than half of black State and Federal prisoners surveyed in 2004 indicated that they used drugs in the month before their offense.

According to additional data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately half of black prisoners in State prisons and more than 40% in Federal prisons surveyed in 2004 met drug dependence or abuse criteria.

Health Effects

A National Vital Statistics Report found that 30,711 persons died of drug-induced causes in 2004. Of the drug-induced deaths, 3,633 were black, 26,474 were white, and 604 were another race. Drug-induced deaths include deaths from dependent and nondependent use of drugs (legal and illegal use) and poisoning from medically prescribed and other drugs. It excludes unintentional injuries, homicides, and other causes indirectly related to drug use. Also excluded are newborn deaths due to mother’s drug use.


According to the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), more than 20% of those admitted to treatment facilities in the U.S. during 2006 were black (non-Hispanic).

Arrests & Sentencing

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, there were a total of 1,382,783 state and local arrests for drug abuse violations in the United States during 2007 where the race of the offender was reported. Of these drug abuse violation arrests, 63.7% of those arrested were white, 35.1% were black, 0.6% were Asian or Pacific Islander, and 0.6% were American Indian or Alaskan Native.

In FY 2004, the U.S. Marshals Service arrested and booked 140,755 total suspects for Federal offenses, 23.6% of which were for drug offenses. Of these arrestees booked by the U.S. Marshals Service for drug offenses, 66.1% were white, 31.0% were black/African American, 0.1% were Indian/Alaska Natives and 1.9% were Asian/Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Also in FY 2004, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) arrested 27,454 individuals. Of those arrested by the DEA, 67.7% were white, 29.2% were black/African American, 0.6% were Indian/Alaska Natives and 2.5% were Asian/Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Additionally, 42.4% of those arrested by the DEA in FY 2004 were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

During FY 2007, there were 25,457 Federal defendants charged with a drug offense whose race was reported to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Approximately one quarter (24.3%) of these defendants were white, 29.5% were black, and 42.7% were Hispanic. Individuals of another race made up 3.5% of these drug cases. Hispanic defendants were sentenced for the majority of powder cocaine, heroin, and marijuana cases. White defendants were sentenced for the majority of methamphetamine cases and blacks were sentenced for the majority of crack cocaine offenses.

At yearend 2004, there were an approximate total of 1,274,600 sentenced State prison inmates, 249,400 of whom were incarcerated for drug offenses. The majority of drug offenders held in State prisons were black (112,500), followed by whites (65,900), and Hispanics (51,800).

During 1995 there were a total of 2,065,896 State and local probationers; of that total, 20% (414,832) were on probation for a drug offense. White probationers (73%) had the highest rate of prior drug use, followed by black probationers (68%) and Hispanics (56%). Drug use at the time of the offense was similar for white (14%) and black (15%) probationers, and lowest for Hispanics (11%).

Taken from theĀ Office of National Drug Control Policy Website.