Drug Use Measurement:

Strengths, Limitations, and Recommendations for Improvement

T-PEMD-94-4: Published: Oct 5, 1993. Publicly Released: Oct 5, 1993.

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GAO discussed its review of three drug use studies, focusing on: (1) the studies' findings; (2) the studies' reliability; and (3) needed study improvements. GAO noted that: (1) the drug use studies show a decline in marijuana use and two of the studies show a decline in cocaine use; (2) the studies could not clearly identify use patterns for heroin and other opiates; (3) the limitations that affect the validity of the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse include the accuracy of self-reports, heroin and cocaine measurement problems, and the frequency of survey administration; (4) the limitations that affect the validity of the High School Senior Survey include the accuracy of self-reports, the exclusion of high school dropouts and absentees, school nonparticipation and replacement, and inadequate minority drug use estimates; (5) the limitations that affect the validity of the Drug Use Forecasting Study include geographic site variations, inadequate sampling procedures, and the lack of privacy for subject interviews; and (6) the studies need to improve the measurement of drug use by high-risk groups, but finding an effective methodology and funding is difficult.

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