-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Sept. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The rate of illegal use
of prescription drugs by young American adults is lower than it was
a few years ago, as are drinking rates among kids, a new federal
government report reveals.
"These findings show that while we have made progress in preventing some aspects of substance abuse we must redouble our efforts to reduce and eliminate all forms of it throughout our nation," Pamela Hyde, administrator of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), said in an agency news release.
The percentage of 18- to 25-year-olds who reported illegal use
of prescription drugs within the past month was 5.3 percent in
2012. That rate is similar to rates in 2011 and 2010, but much
lower than the rate of 6.4 percent in 2009, according to the
SAMHSA's 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health also found
that the rates of past month drinking, binge drinking and heavy
drinking among youth aged 12 to 17 were lower than in 2002 and
The report, released in time for National Recovery Month,
indicated that the percentage of people 12 and older who drove
under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year was
11.2 percent in 2012, compared with 14.2 percent in 2002 and 11.1
percent in 2011.
And the overall rate of illicit drug use among Americans 12 and
older was similar in 2011 and 2012, at about 9 percent (or nearly
24 million people), the findings showed.
When it comes to illicit drugs, marijuana remains the most
widely used, with 7.3 percent of Americans using pot in 2012. This
was an increase over the rate of 5.8 percent in 2007. Marijuana use
rose in nearly every age group between 2007 and 2012, but did fall
from 7.9 percent in 2011 to 7.2 percent in 2012 among those aged 12
There was also a significant rise in heroin use. The number of
people 12 and older who used heroin over the past year rose from
373,000 in 2007 to 669,000 in 2012, the investigators found.
The researchers pointed out in a SAMHSA news release that there
is good news in their report. Tobacco use among those under 18
years of age fell from 15.2 percent in 2002 to 8.6 percent in 2012,
and the percentage of people in the 12-to-17 age group with
substance dependence or abuse dropped from nearly 9 percent to
about 6 percent over the same period.
However, the report also found that many Americans who need
treatment for a substance use disorder still don't receive
specialty treatment. The results showed that while an estimated 23
million Americans 12 or older needed treatment for abuse of illicit
drugs or alcohol in 2012, only 2.5 million (about 11 percent) of
those people received it in a specialized treatment setting.
"These statistics represent real people, families and communities dealing with the devastating consequences of abuse and addiction. We must strive to prevent further abuse and provide the hope of treatment and recovery to all people needing help," Hyde noted.
Gil Kerlikowske, the director of National Drug Control Policy,
stressed that "reducing the impact of drug use and its consequences
on our nation requires a robust public health response coupled with
smart-on-crime strategies that protect public safety."
And, Kerlikowske added in the news release, "for the first time
in a decade, we are seeing real, and significant reductions in the
abuse of prescription drugs in America, proving that a more
comprehensive response to our drug problem can make a real
difference in making our nation healthier and safer. Expanding
prevention, treatment and support for people in recovery for
substance use disorders will be our guide as we work to address
other emerging challenges, including the recent uptick in heroin
use shown in this survey."
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about
drug abuse and addiction.
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