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Number of Young Adults Abusing Prescription Drugs is Declining: Report

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A new government survey finds the number of young adults ages 18 to 25 who used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in the past month declined 14 percent, from 2 million in 2010, to 1.7 million in 2011. Overall, the survey found a 12 percent decline in the number of Americans who abused prescription drugs.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) also found that non-medical use of prescription drugs among children ages 12 to 17, and adults 26 or older, remained unchanged.

According to the survey, rates of past-month drinking, binge drinking and heavy drinking among those who are underage, are all on the decline. Marijuana use is up slightly, from 5.8 percent in 2007, to 7 percent in 2011. Tobacco use among teens ages 12 to 17 is down.

“These results are encouraging, but we cannot afford to take our eyes off the ball. The abuse of painkillers in America continues to take too many lives, tear apart too many families, and place too much burden on communities across the nation,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “The good news is that today’s findings prove yet again that we are not powerless against the problem of substance abuse in America.”

4 Responses to this article

  1. Joe Miller / September 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    It has been my observation over the last three decades that the general percentage of our population here in the US we consider to be “abusing drugs” remains fairly constant at right around twenty percent up and down a couple of percentage points. The only thing that seems to show any significant changes is their current drugs of choice.

  2. Melissa Weiksnar / September 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    But why? Are they switching to cheaper heroin? Have they died? Or is there some evidence of effective prevention/treatment? Anecdotally in the Boston area, it’s the switch to heroin.

  3. Michael W. Shore, M.D. / September 24, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Declining?? You wouldn’t know it from the volume of calls and treatment visits in my practice of Addiction Medicine

  4. Trisha DeLozier / September 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I don’t know where you are getting your information but every community I come across in Oklahoma begs to differ with those numbers!

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