Slight Drop in Prescription Drug Abuse among Young Adults

Prescription drug abuse in the U.S. has dropped to the lowest level since 2002, reflecting a crackdown on over-prescribing doctors and black market drug dealers.

A crackdown on pills mills and doctor shopping has led to a decrease in prescription drug abuse in the U.S.

Prescription drugs are no longer being abused quite as prominently as they once were, especially by young adults. In fact, the
abuse of prescription drugs dropped to the lowest level since 2002

. Experts are crediting the drop in drug abuse to crackdowns at federal and state levels on doctors who offer prescriptions for profit and on patients who have obtained drugs by visiting pill mills and doctor shopping.

Young adults, who were among the largest group of abusers of prescription drugs, have also showed the greatest drop in abuse. The number of young adults, defined as those between the ages of 18 to 25, who regularly abused prescription drugs went from 1.9 million to 1.7 million, roughly a 14 percent drop. Only 3.6 percent of those abused pain relievers, such as Percocet, or Vicodin.

In 2010, 7 million people used pain killers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and other prescription drugs; this number dropped to 6.1 million in 2011. This illustrates that the increase in public awareness and the stepped up efforts of law enforcement and anti drug officials have decreased the abuse of these drugs, according to Pamela Hyde, an Administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In 2011, roughly 9% of the American population aged 12 and older admitted to regularly using drugs such as heroin, marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs, including the abuse of prescription drugs. Cocaine abuse has dropped by over a million users between 2006 and 2011, however, the amount of people addicted to pain killers has grown by almost half a million in the same time frame. Heroin use is also on its way up, gaining a substantial 75% user rate in the past four years.

Marijuana is still the most commonly used drug, regardless of age. Alcohol abuse and cigarette smoking has dropped off among young adults since 2008, but marijuana usage has been consistently growing. Children as young as 13 and 14 years old have admitted to using marijuana in the past month, almost 13 percent of them in fact! The number of teenagers who believe that smoking marijuana is risky behavior has dropped in the past four years almost 10%. Either way, these trends should be watched carefully.

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