Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics and Trends
In 1999, an estimated 4 million people, about 2 percent of the population age 12 and older, were currently (use in past month) using prescription drugs non-medically. Of these, 2.6 million misused pain relievers, 1.3 million misused sedatives and tranquilizers, and 0.9 million misused stimulants. While prescription drug abuse affects many Americans, some trends of particular concern can be seen among older adults, adolescents, and women.
The misuse of prescription drugs may be the most common form of drug abuse among the elderly. Older people are prescribed medications about three times more frequently than the general population, and have poorer compliance with directions for use.
The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse
The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse numbers indicate that the sharpest increases in new users of prescription drugs for non-medical purposes occur in 12 to 17 and 18 to 25 year-olds. Among 12 to 14 year-olds, psychotherapeutics (e.g., pain killers, tranquilizers, sedatives, and stimulants) were reported to be one of two primary drugs used.
The 1999 Monitoring the Future Survey
The 1999 Monitoring the Future Survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders nationwide, showed that for barbiturates, tranquilizers, and narcotics other than heroin, general long-term declines in use in the 1980s leveled-off in the early 1990s, with modest increases again in the mid-1990s.
Overall, men and women have roughly similar rates of Non-medical use of prescription drugs, with the exception of 12 to 17 year olds. In this age group, young women are more likely than young men to use psychotherapeutic drugs non-medically. Also, among women and men who use either a sedative, anti-anxiety drug, or hypnotic, women are almost twice as likely to become addicted.
The Drug Abuse Warning Network
The Drug Abuse Warning Network, which collects data on drug-related hospital emergency room episodes, reported that mentions of hydrocodone as a cause for visiting an emergency room increased 37 percent among all age groups from 1997 to 1999. Also, mentions of clonazepam increased 102 percent since 1992.
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