Increased use of cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana among Manhattan, New York, residents after the September 11th terrorist attacks

David Vlahov, Sandro Galea, Heidi Resnick, Jennifer Ahern, Joseph A. Boscarino, Michael Bucuvalas, Joel Gold, Dean Kilpatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were the largest human-made disaster in the United States since the Civil War. Studies after earlier disasters have reported rates of psychological disorders in the acute postdisaster period. However, data on postdisaster increases in substance use are sparse. A random digit dial telephone survey was conducted to estimate the prevalence of increased cigarette smoking; alcohol consumption, and marijuana use among residents of Manhattan, New York City, 5-8 weeks after the attacks. Among 988 persons included, 28.8% reported an increase in use of any of these three substances, 9.7% reported an increase in smoking, 24.6% reported an increase in alcohol consumption, and 3.2% reported an increase in marijuana use. Persons who increased smoking of cigarettes and marijuana were more likely to experience posttraumatic stress disorder than were those who did not (24.2% vs. 5.6% posttraumatic stress disorder for cigarettes; 36.0% vs. 6.6% for marijuana). Depression was more common among those who increased than for those who did not increase cigarette smoking (22.1 vs 8.2%), alcohol consumption (15.5 vs. 8.3%), and marijuana smoking (22.3 vs. 9.4%). The results of this study suggest a substantial increase in substance use in the acute postdisaster period after the September 11th attacks. Increase in use of different substances may be associated with the presence of different comorbid psychiatric conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)988-996
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol drinking
  • Disasters
  • Marijuana smoking
  • Smoking
  • Stress disorders, posttraumatic
  • Substance-related disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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