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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Survey Says: Prescription Drug Use By Young Adults Declines But Addiction Rises

Each year the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducts a survey with people 12 years of age and older. This survey is called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The results of the 2011 federal survey were released September 24, 2012, and there appears to be some good news.

Survey results overview

SAMHSA collects the data from 67,500 - 70,000 participants, asking specifically what drugs they may or may not have used within the month.  This year the main takeaway is that prescription drug abuse declined to the lowest rate since 2002. Other results indicate:
  • In 2010 7 million people reported abusing narcotic pain pills, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives; however, in 2011 this number dropped to 6.1 million.
  • Specifically, pain pill abuse dropped to 1.7% in 2011, from 2.1% of the population in 2009.
  • However, those addicted to pain relievers in 2011 rose to 1.4 million in 2011 from 936,000 in 2002.
  • Conversely, in 2011 9% of the population (22.5 million) reported regularly using illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana, hallucinogens and inhalants or abused prescription drugs like tranquilizers, sedatives, stimulants and pain relievers.
  • Cocaine abuse dropped to 1.4 million in 2011 from 2.4 million regular users in 2006.
  • Regular use of heroin rose to 281,000 in 2011 from 161,000 in 2007. Of those who used heroin in the past year, this number grew from 373,000 in 2007 to 621,000 in 2010, but dropped to 620,000 in 2011.
  • Marijuana use continued to be the most commonly abused drug among all age groups since 2008. Of interest, youth reported that drinking and smoking dropped
The complete174 page report can be read here.

What the experts say

 Dr. Peter Delaney, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at SAMSHA, feels that public education and prescription drug monitoring programs could have contributed to the drop reported in abuse of narcotic pain pills, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives.

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, concurs that the fact that most states now have prescription drug monitoring programs which not only monitor drug abusers seeking multiple prescriptions, but also identify those doctors who prescribe excessive doses of drugs.

CBS News quotes SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde's press release: "Behind each of these statistics are individuals, families and communities suffering from the consequences of abuse and addiction. We must continue to promote robust prevention, treatment and recovery programs throughout our country."

Going forward...

Perhaps what we can take from all of these statistics is that promoting prevention and treatment needs to be each person's goal. Parents need to pay attention to any unusual behavior exhibited by their children. All parents want to see the good in their children, but they need to remember that a child's thought processes continue to evolve well into their 20s. Children are impressionable. They want to fit in and they are impacted by peer pressure every day. As well, young adults and mature adults need to examine their own use and abuse of both legal and illegal drugs. If you see a problem developing, then face it. Ask questions, seek advice, and seek treatment.

The life you save may be your child's or your own.

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