Substance abuse increases in New York City in aftermath of September 11th

Survey results indicate that smoking and alcohol and marijuana use increased among residents of Manhattan during the five to eight weeks after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC).

Almost one-third of the nearly 1,000 persons interviewed reported an increased use of alcohol, marijuana, or cigarettes following the September 11th attacks. The largest increase was in alcohol use. About one-fourth of the respondents said they were drinking more alcohol in the weeks after September 11th; about 10 percent reported an increase in smoking, and 3.2 percent said they had increased their use of marijuana.

The survey results appear in the June 1, 2002 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. Dr. Glen R. Hanson, Acting Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), says, By helping to define the demographic and situational characteristics that were associated with increased alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use following the traumatic events of September 11th, this research will help us to design more effective substance abuse treatment and prevention strategies for individuals coping with severe stress.

The investigators found survey participants by randomly dialing New York City phone numbers and screened potential respondents for Manhattan residents living in areas close to the World Trade Center. Interviews were conducted with 988 individuals between October 16th and November 15th, 2001 -- five to eight weeks after the terrorist attacks.

Demographic information was collected on each participant and the respondents were asked if they had experienced other major life stresses, such as a divorce or death in the family during the past year; if they had directly witnessed the events of September 11th; if they were afraid for their lives during the attacks; if friends or relatives were killed during the attacks; if they were involved in the rescue efforts; if they had experienced symptoms of panic in the first fe

Contact: Blair Gately
NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse

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