Howard County has developed a comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan, called Bike Howard, and “the Bikeway” has been identified as the top priority for jump-starting the project. But funding to implement the Plan has been minimal and suggests a serious lack of commitment to encouraging bicycle travel in the County. Here’s what you need to know about Bike Howard and the Bikeway. At the end of this post, there’s a link to tell County Executive Kittleman and the County Council of your support for the Plan.
Howard County Bicycle Master Plan
In April of 2016, Howard County adopted its first Bicycle Master Plan. The Bicycle Master Plan provides guidance for both transportation and recreational bicycling, both on-street and off-street. Recommendations are provided in the general areas of infrastructure improvements, policy and programs.
Goals and objectives are:
Identify and develop countywide system of bicycle facilities to foster connectivity within and between the following: villages, communities and neighborhoods throughout the County, as well as neighboring cities and counties, parks and recreation centers, schools and educational institutions, commercial and employment centers, and regional and local transit facilities.
Facilitate recreational and transportation trips by bicycle in the County and improve safety for all types of bicyclists.
Recommend County policies that will support bicycling, including bikeway facility design.
Build public support for implementation of the Plan.
The Bikeway is a proposed network of safe, accessible bicycle routes that extends from Clarksville to Elkridge and Laurel to Ellicott City. The Bikeway includes 10 percent of the county’s Bicycle Master Plan.
More than half of county residents, schools and parks ‒ as well as MARC stations and park and rides ‒ are within one mile of these routes. It is a core network that we can build off in the future to bring safer bicycling to every neighborhood.
The Bikeway is underfunded
In 2016, we requested $9 million for three years and 31.6 new miles. Unfortunately, the county funded only $600,000 in its FY2018 budget. At this rate, it will take over 12 years to fund the Bikeway. The Bike Master Plan will take decades longer than promised.
Howard County is falling behind.
Other communities are putting far more funds into bike routes and seeing the benefits. Montgomery County is putting more than $23 million of county funds into bicycling routes this year. In Salisbury, which has a population that is one-tenth the size of Howard County, the budget includes $750,000 for the city’s bike plan.
Excerpts from copies of selected letters submitted to County Executive Kittleman in late 2017.
Howard County Association of Realtors
“Multi-modal transportation options are an increasingly important factor in the home-buying process. According to a 2015 report by the Urban Land Institute, half of US residents and nearly two-thirds of Millenials want to live in areas where they do not have to rely solely on auto transportation. In addition, a joint National Association of Realtors and National Association of Home Builders study found that a path for biking, walking, or jogging was ‘the second most important neighborhood amenity in a home search’.”
“The Bikeway has the potential to make a great impact on alleviating environmental harm caused by cars and greenhouse gas emissions. A Rail to Trails Conservancy analysis found that increasing the share of all trips in the US made by biking and walking by just 3 percent would yield fuel savings of 3.8 billion gallons a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33 million tons per year.”
“Many families Enterprise supports, both nationally and locally, cannot afford a car and struggle for reliable, convenient transportation. . . . . Enterprise is excited that some of the local affordable housing properties we have developed are near the proposed Bikeway. If fully built, the Bikeway would enable these residents to safely bicycle to jobs, services, transit, and over half of the county’s parks and schools. The Bikeway would improve quality of life, economic prospects, and health.
The Bikeway is truly a public good for all people in our community – for people who have children and people who have no children, for people who go to work and people who are retired, for people who are younger and people who are older, and for people who are facing financial challenges and people who are financially secure. The Bikeway is an opportunity to create safe and convenient bike routes for residents now and in the future.
We need $3 million for the Bikeway in next year’s budget to get us rolling. Join 1,500+ people, and tell the County Executive and County Council to increase funding for the Bikeway now. Click on the link below for an easy transmittal form.
Kimco presented their plans for the revitalization of the Hickory Ridge Village Center to the Howard County Planning Board on January 4, 2018. Many Hickory Ridge residents, including long-time denizens, support Kimco’s proposal. The Village Board and most citizens that testified at the hearing oppose it. But the issues raised by the proponents are central to the future of Hickory Ridge, Columbia, and Howard County. To further the conversation, following are excerpts from the testimony of several supporters who testified at Thursday’s hearing.
Eric Stein, Hickory Ridge
Owner, Decanter Fine Wines, Hickory Ridge Village Center
I am in favor of the plan, because I believe the Hickory Ridge Village Center is failing. When the Giant opened in 1992, it was advertised as a gourmet Giant. It isn’t. Not today, and hasn’t been for many years. Today, we have 4 empty bays in the center representing 65% of 1 building, and likely more to come. Contrary to belief, Kimco, the landlord, hasn’t forced these businesses to leave. They have left for many reasons, but they will not be replaced until a decision is made on our future, and we’re suffering. Once this plan is approved, we will still have several years of an under-performing center.
Do we remain an outdated design where the merchants face inward and can’t be seen, or do we accept one that gives us a chance to compete with contemporary concepts. The apartments are not an option, but a necessity. You can’t do anything without people, and those that have left the center aren’t coming back. At least not until we offer them an array of businesses that appeal to a newer audience as Columbia’s growth continues.
George Clack, Clemens Crossing
Hickory Ridge resident since 1984; Spokesperson, Citizens In favor of a Vibrant Village Center (CIVVC)
In my view the Community Response Statement (CRS) shows a serious lack of leadership and vision on the part of the Village Board. The Village Board claims in the CRS to reflect the views of Hickory Ridge residents, but I do not find my views or those of my fellow CIVCC members represented in the document. The Village Board appears to have listened only to the quite vocal and highly predictable responses of the NIMBY’s of Hickory Ridge. The resulting CRS is far from a balanced, credible report; it nitpicks every possible detail to make what sounds like a lawyer’s brief against Kimco’s plan.
In brief, I care far more about having a viable village center 10 years down the road than I care about the height of any building at that center. Over the years we’ve seen Columbia village centers at Long Reach, Wilde Lake, and Oakland Mills turn into near ghost towns because their grocery-store anchors were no longer competitive. And, in recent years, with the addition of Walmart, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Wegmans, and Whole Foods, the grocery-store environment in Columbia has become much more competitive. Kimco’s basic argument – that the Hickory Ridge Giant needs a “captive audience” of apartment dwellers nearby to provide a sustainable base of customers – makes sense to me.
In summary, I am deeply disappointed in the Village Board’s CRS and the Board’s inability to see the virtues in a $30 million private-sector offer to redevelop a village center that could use help right now. Much experience elsewhere in Columbia and the country as a whole has shown that maintaining the human scale of a small-village retail center nowadays requires mixed-use development and that means apartments nearby.
Jerry Weinstein, Hawthorne
Resident of Columbia for over 40 years
I applaud Kimco for thinking long term in their desire to maintain Hickory Ridge Village Center as a dynamic, viable establishment. While the VC certainly functions well now, it’s clear that trends in retailing and residential rentals have been and are changing.
Kimco deserves credit for trying to say ahead of the trends instead of being left behind. Given that Kimco is a publicly-traded corporation, with concomitant fiduciary responsibilities to its shareholders, any decision on Kimco’s part to invest substantial sums of money into an updated Village Center must make sense economically.
More retail space, combined with more residential presence, can only benefit the community. On the assumption that the county takes adequate consideration of infrastructure needs, the net result will inevitably be an increase in property values. And that means a more desirable community in which we live.
Harry Schwarz, Clary’s Forest
I support the Kimco proposal. The people opposed to it want to keep things as they are, without acknowledging the changing world that we must grow into. The County is expected to grow by 14% between 2010 and 2035, an increase of about 40,000 people. We can create more suburban sprawl, eat up more of our open spaces, build more highways, and ignore environmental impacts, or we can implement smart growth and meet the challenge of more people by accommodating them in an ecologically sound way. I like to think that we are forward looking people in Howard County.
Increased densities in appropriate locations throughout Columbia, such as the Crescent and the Village Centers, is smart growth for Hickory Ridge, for Columbia, and for Howard County as a whole. Kimco’s proposal helps assure the continued viability of our community. It improves the fiscal health of the County by reducing the need to duplicate infrastructure elsewhere. Putting housing on land that currently serves as a parking lot helps reduce our consumption of land elsewhere and allows us to protect valuable open space, farmland, and habitat. Expanded transportation options become possible with higher ridership.
Columbia has always been a model of smart growth. From the beginning, it has been committed to creating “complete neighborhoods” by integrating multiple uses within close walking distance in order to accommodate people’s varying needs. By increasing the density of neighborhoods, Columbia retained more of our land for open space. Mixed land use and varying density are the cornerstones of smart growth. Kimco is offering a great place to live, with all the amenities we are used to, and the option to walk, drive or ride transit. Kimco’s proposal serves the interests of Columbia and Howard County for smart growth.
Susan Clack, Clemens Crossing
Howard County resident for 54 years; 34 in Clemens Crossing
I wholeheartedly support Kimco’s plan to redevelop the Village Center. I am in favor of progress, and I’m delighted we are fortunate enough to have an experienced national developer anxious to invest $30 million dollars to improve our center. Quite frankly seeing the center revitalized before it’s on its last legs is in my best interest as a property owner.
Having initially attended Kimco’s community outreach meetings about their plans for the Center, I was appalled by a few, but very vocal, residents’ objection to apartment dwellers. Several residents made statements such as “Apartment dwellers do not share our values.” My jaw dropped and I could hardly believe what I was hearing. This wasn’t the inclusiveness embraced by the Columbia I moved to 43 years ago.
What I witnessed was Kimco’s continued graciousness while a few residents spewed hate and personal animosity. Kimco listened and responded to residents who had more rational requests and modified plans accordingly. We’ll get a much more attractive center.
Jonathan Wilson, Cedar Acres
I wish to voice my support for diversity of housing and more housing choice. It makes us a more inclusive community. In 1986, the developers of Columbia were planning the new Village of River Hill. The developers brought forward to the County Zoning Board a proposal to zone roughly 90 acres of land near what would be the River Hill Village Center as non-single family detached housing.
The existing community members pushed back stating this was not the vision of River Hill; it was just supposed to be single family homes. The Zoning Board largely accepted the arguments of the community and approved only 33 acres for non-single family housing. Today, this land is now condominiums and townhomes. There are no apartment buildings in River Hill. Members of our community now question why River Hill is so exclusive.
No one really knows what the economic makeup will be of the proposed rental apartments at the Village Center. On paper, these will be luxury, high end units. Maybe they won’t bring more economic diversity to our community. But they will bring opportunity for people who don’t have money for a down payment in our high cost community. Rental units offer choice and the prospect for more diversity of income levels. I believe there are many people in our community who would view this as a good thing.
Ellen Levin, Clemens Crossing
Resident of Clemens Crossing for 30 years
I love living where I do. And I love the Village Center. It is wonderful having an excellent grocery store nearby as well as some necessary and enjoyable small businesses. Before too long it looks like we may have a new look to our Village Center. We may have additional small businesses. And we may have high end apartments, new places for people to live.
Different people have different housing needs and preferences. A young professional couple may not need or want a house with many rooms to clean and care for. An empty nester couple may be looking to downsize, to make their lives simpler. One day those of us who live in townhomes or single family homes may want to join them.
Change is hard. We are not used to having an apartment building in our midst. So we don’t know what to expect or how these apartments and their occupants will affect us. But I do know that Columbia has always prided itself on being a welcoming place to live, a welcoming place to all. Let’s welcome our new neighbors and discover some additional businesses while we continue to support the businesses we have always loved.
Steve Sternheimer, Hawthorne
37-year Columbia resident; Officer in home owners’ association of 18 homes
I was a member of the subcommittee that discussed/drafted the Hickory Ridge Village Center Community Plan, 2009-2011, so I feel qualified to speak about the concerns and intentions of the subcommittee and put the Village Community Plan in context.
The starting point was to ensure a thriving retail center for the decade to come. The “threat” seen by those on the subcommittee was not too many residents in the Village Center, but empty space in spread-out and mostly vacant parking lots; incursion by fast food & convenience stores in pads in the same area; and possible competing retail development in vacant land across Freetown and Cedar. Discussion in the subcommittee and subsequent comments on drafts by residents included many who did not oppose a Kimco-type plan with increased on-site housing density.
Comments in the published Plan favored offices & residential structures in the Center, up to 5 stories, with a priority on more foot traffic for merchants. The Subcommittee’s discussions re: the height of buildings in the Center were nowhere definitive nor result of modeling but a sense that the highest roof gable of Sunrise Assisted Living (about 4 stories) might be a standard.
Bob Duggan, acupuncturist, teacher, and visionary, died a little over a year ago. In the time since, the world has changed by his absence. We are all deprived of his wisdom and his leadership. Acupuncturists, patients, SOPHIA students (School of Philosophy and Healing in Action), the community at Penn North Neighborhood Center, to name a few, have lost a mentor. I learned a different way of being in this world when I worked with Bob for many years at Tai Sophia Institute (now MUIH).
Bob’s accomplishments were many, but his impact was in how he changed the world for the better, one person at a time. His promise to all of us was that in his presence, “life will show up as a warm, creative, vision of the future.” Here is a small glimpse of that vision, a selection of Bob’s writings and speakings, and a couple stories about him.
Bob Duggan, Founder and President Emeritus, Maryland University of Integrative Health [EXCERPT]
Bob was a true pioneer in the field of integrative health and an assertive voice for wellness in America. He served as an educator, acupuncture practitioner, author, thought leader, and advocate, as well as an advisor to policymakers and organizations. . . .
Bob earned a master’s degree in human relations and community studies from New York University and a master’s degree in moral theology from St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York. His master’s qualification in acupuncture was from the College of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture in the United Kingdom. Before focusing on health as a profession and a calling, Bob served as a priest in the U.S. and abroad.
Mentored from an early age by Ivan Illich, Bob often attributed his ability to challenge common assumptions and remain curious to Illich’s influence. This quote from Illich was highlighted in one of Bob’s books and was evidenced in much of Bob’s work: “In every society the dominant image of death determines the prevalent concept of health.”
Throughout his career, Bob advocated for patients and for the shifts necessary to create a wellness model of health. He testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, spoke at the National Institutes of Health and the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and presented at the first TEDx MidAtlantic Conference. He also served as chairman of the Maryland State Board of Acupuncture and as a board member for Howard County’s Horizon Foundation. He pioneered relationships with universities and health systems including Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania.
A trailblazer for the acupuncture profession, in 1974, Bob and Dianne Connelly co-founded one of the first acupuncture clinics in the country, The Centre for Traditional Acupuncture in Columbia, Maryland. Joining them in this ambitious venture were their esteemed colleagues J. R. Worsley, Jack Daniel, Haig Ignatius, Erica Lazaro, and Warren Ross. From this early beginning, the Centre evolved into the Traditional Acupuncture Institute (TAI). TAI launched the nation’s second master’s degree in acupuncture in 1981, which then became the first to be accredited in 1985.
Bob went on to practice traditional acupuncture for 44 years. Over that time, he provided tens of thousands of treatments for patients who came to see him from around the nation. Bob also worked with Tai Sophia’s Community Health Initiative (CHI), which began by treating people with addictions at the Baltimore Detention Center and expanded to additional sites, including Penn North Neighborhood Center in inner-city Baltimore. Bob continued his work with Penn North until he became unable to do so. The work lives on through his family, alumni of Tai Sophia/MUIH, and others.
10 things I learned directly from Bob that make my life, and the lives of those around me, better every day.
by Lance David Isakov, M.Ac., L.Ac., (Village Wellness) October 7, 2016
1. Upset is optional: Choose not to live in the drama. We have a choice in how we relate to what’s happening and the perspective we take on it. The idea that we have a choice with how we respond to life’s circumstances brings freedom.
2. Allow yourself to be a beginner: It’s okay to make mistakes. In fact, that’s how we learn. At any stage of life, allowing oneself to be a beginner opens up a bigger world of possibility, progress, and change.
3. Is it a problem or an opportunity?: This question provides a simple shift in perspective that gives you power to grow and learn rather than suffer.
4. Your symptom is your teacher: What if the body is wise? When it’s out of balance it sends a signal, or symptom. When we learn to listen to our symptoms we can truly heal. Understanding why you have a headache, for example, can lead you to empowered self awareness and healing. Often taking a medication masks the symptom but doesn’t grow your soul.
5. Will this serve the future generations?: This question reminds us to think big and remember that we matter. When speaking or acting, ask yourself “would this word or act make my ancestors proud?” and “will my words or act serve the future generations?”
6. Where do you feel it in your body? When you have an upset, ask yourself “where do I feel this in my body?” and allow the feeling. This is a simple and effective way to foster the connection between your mind and body and listen to it’s wisdom.
7. Listen: To truly listen means to pay more attention to the speaker than the thoughts in your own head.
8. Acknowledge others and be acknowledged. If someone said something nice to Bob, he would say, “I am practicing taking in acknowledgement, would you say that again so i can really take it in?” This is a powerful and challenging practice that creates so much beauty in the world – try it!
9. Word as Needle: Bob taught that the right words can have the same power of any acupuncture needle, medicine, herb, or drug.
10. Be who you are: How dare you not share the gifts you have with the world?
Common Sense for the Healing Arts, Essays by Robert M. Duggan (2003) [Selections]
I write this book to share the thought that our main task as we move between our birth and our death is to learn to live peacefully day-by-day. . . Living peacefully day-by-day demands common sense: eat moderately, breathe deeply, drink wisely, get plenty of sleep, accept life as it comes. And as we move through life, we have a marvelous resource — our symptoms, which remind us to slow down, be peaceful, to care for ourselves. It’s wondrous to me to think of the symptoms my body creates as my teachers. What especially keeps me going is knowing that life is about love, family, friends, community; about reaping the wisdom of the ancestors, then passing it on to our children and grandchildren.
Being an Observer
I have written and spoken frequently about the importance of being an observer, of seeing life exactly as it is and then bowing to it, accepting life fully, just as it is. The Tao, the Oneness of life, calls us to accept life, to live in the presence of life living us. It affirms that life is perfectly okay just as we find it. . . Living fully may simply be the the act of balancing two side of what seems a paradox, of balancing effort and effortlessness, being and doing, action and inaction, giving and receiving.
As I write, our nation in in the midst of a conflict in Kosovo. We are in opposition. Us versus Them. The people of our tradition versus people of another tradition, of one language versus those of another. . . Wonderful possibilities emerge as we begin to see the oneness. Most of the time, though, we dwell in an illusion of separateness . . . It’s generally accepted in our culture that we separate out who’s wrong and who’s right, who’s bad and who’s good. It’s hard for us to imagine how we would behave in a world where we didn’t place blame. What would it mean if we began looking for how one action begat another action begat another action? In such a world, how would we view the guns and addictions in the inner city? Would we see them as a call to the oneness?
Our nation’s founders . . based our democracy on respect for life as it appears, in diverse faiths and ideas, on compromise, and on service of the future. Now, however, more and more politicians ignore this heritage; they use oppositional tactics; they govern with an either/or, win/lose mentality in which those with the most power win. Many excellent leaders are recognizing this shift and are leaving the political arena in disgust or despair. Democracy is diminished when we become impervious about our own ideas and fail to accept life as it presents itself in others.
Evolving as Healers — An Interview with Bob Duggan of Tai Sophia Institute [EXCERPT]
Be Well World Staff, 2009
. . . Everyone is a healer. Because every word we speak . . . everything I say to Tim is either going to inspire Tim and open Tim up, or, if I get mean with Tim, Tim will contract and feel tight. But if he feels open and inspired, I think it is well-documented that his immune system is going to be stronger. If he’s upset and tight, he’s going to be much more vulnerable to closing down and to disease.
So, I think of the obligation of everyone to be a healer . . . everyone. The parents, the people in your office, and you with the people in your office. Yes, there are sometimes when a specific technique can be helpful. When I tore the quadriceps muscles on my knee, it was important that there was a surgeon to put it back together, and an anesthesiologist to keep me quiet while he did. But I did look to see that those individuals had healing qualities before I went to the surgery.
So that’s point number one, we all have to be healers. The technique is secondary to the healing. I take the tools, the acupuncture needle or the surgical scalpel, as an extension of the doctor. I take the herb given by Rebecca as an extension of Rebecca’s words and life force. I take the homeopathic preparation given by my daughter to my grandchild as empowered by her healing presence.
Breaking the Iron Triangle: Reducing Health-Care Costs in Corporate America
by Janene Holzberg (Baltimore Sun), December 30, 2012 [ABRIDGED]
Bob Duggan frequently refers to “our national disease-care system” when he talks about his new book, employing a term he has used across his 40-plus years as a healing-arts clinician and educator.
“We are spending fortunes and still not giving quality health care, and 40 million people have no access [to care] at all,” he said. “There would be no ‘fiscal cliff’ if unnecessary health-care expenses were eliminated.”
To bolster that argument, he quotes estimates that $1.2 trillion of the country’s annual health-care expenditures could be avoided if individuals made common-sense lifestyle changes.
Life expectancy in the United States is ranked 50th in the world, below most developed nations and some developing nations,” he said, attributing his statement to data published on the CIA World Factbook website.
Yet in 2009, U.S. federal, state and local governments, corporations and individuals together spent $2.5 trillion, or $8,047 per person, on health care, he writes, quoting National Health Expenditures 2009 Highlights.
“We must turn the medical conversation away from a war on disease and fear of our bodies, and expand our focus on learning and understanding ways of living well,” he writes.
“Moving from abstraction to embodied consciousness” with Robert Duggan
From the Audio Set: “Mysteries of Consciousness” Teleseminar Series, by Institute of Noetic Sciences, June 22, 2011
Abstraction may be our Original Sin. And “Consciousness” may be one of our most destructive abstractions. It seems odd to me to discuss consciousness when most individuals whom I encounter do not have an embodied sensory conscious awareness of their own body. A “headache” automatically becomes a problem to be tended with a pill rather than a moment of conscious awakening in which to remember that we have a “head” and that the complaint that it makes to us when we have our Observer awake may be teaching us to get more sleep, or water, or better quality food or less judgment about our neighbor or whatever. Is sensory awareness of the daily phenomena of life the only real consciousness . . . and when we are awake to that, we are awake to the whole?
Howard County, Md. recently opened a new facility for homeless persons, the Leola Dorsey Community Resource Center. It now houses the Day Resource Center that previously operated on Route 1, includes 35 apartments, and is based on an increasingly popular model for addressing homelessness called “Housing First.” Here is a primer on the new center and the challenge of homelessness in Howard County, Md.
(This post is an update of a previous HoCoMDcc post, “Howard County’s Latest Effort to End Homelessness”, June 21, 2016)
Howard County officials unveil Dorsey Community Resource Center
by Kate Magill (Howard County Times), October 2, 2017 [EXCERPTS]
Amid a crowd of nearly 100 people, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman unveiled the Leola Dorsey Community Resource Center on Monday, joined by Howard County Housing Commissioner Peter Engel, state Sens. Gail Bates and Guy Guzzone and several other officials.
With its ability to serve more than 100 people a day, Engel noted that the center is able to serve at least half of the county’s homeless population on any given day. There were 214 homeless individuals in Howard County in 2016, according to state data.
Transportation has been in the news a lot lately. Governor Hogan announced his intention to spend $9 billion on a massive highway project. Howard County is holding public hearings on how to upgrade our public transit system. Columbia Association just held its annual BikeAbout. And Horizon Foundation is holding its Open Streets event Sunday October 1st.
We need to think of these aspects of transportation as an integrated whole or else we’ll waste a lot of money without fully supporting our community needs. Contrary to Governor Hogan’s approach, Howard County has committed to a “Complete Streets” policy, and the Open Streets event will demonstrate what that is. Here I attempt to make sense of it all.Continue reading The future of transportation is “Complete Streets”
As temperatures cool, more and more people are bicycling, for fun, exercise, and basic transportation. Howard County provides numerous opportunities to join the movement. There are several events coming up in the next few weeks and organizations that are devoted to cycling. Our transportation infrastructure is changing to support a more walkable and bikeable community. Bicycles are now available on demand for short trips around Columbia.
Actually, Howard County is not unusual in the extent of our substance use and abuse. And like everywhere else, addiction follows for too many of us. Whether addiction is to a licit or illicit drug, the results to one’s well-being are much the same. Given that addicts are from all walks of life, all income groups, all races and creeds, it’s difficult to argue that imprisonment is the best solution. And most folks need help to recover from an addiction. Here’s a primer on addiction and what help is available in the HoCo.
Prevalence of Substance Use in the United States
According to SAMHSA’s [Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration] National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) – 2014 (PDF | 3.4 MB), about two-thirds (66.6%) of people aged 12 or older reported in 2014 that they drank alcohol in the past 12 months, with 6.4% meeting criteria for an alcohol use disorder. Also among Americans aged 12 or older, the use of illicit drugs has increased over the last decade from 8.3% of the population using illicit drugs in the past month in 2002 to 10.2% (27 million people) in 2014. Of those, 7.1 million people met criteria for an illicit drug use disorder in the past year.
The misuse of prescription drugs is second only to marijuana as the nation’s most common drug problem after alcohol and tobacco, leading to troubling increases in opioid overdoses in the past decade. An estimated 25.2% (66.9 million) of Americans aged 12 or older were current users of a tobacco product. While tobacco use has declined since 2002 for the general population, this has not been the case for people with serious mental illness where tobacco use remains a major cause of morbidity and early death.
[The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.]