Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

National Drug Use Survey Reveals Ups and Downs

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

National Drug Use Survey Reveals Ups and Downs

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- There's good and bad news from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Overall drug use among adolescents has declined since 2002, but prescription drug misuse among young adults has skyrocketed.

In the federally funded annual survey of approximately 67,500 Americans, the proportion of adolescents aged 12-17 years who acknowledged drug use in the past month dropped from 11.6% in 2002 to 9.8% in 2006, similar to the 9.9% level in 2005. Current marijuana use in that age group declined even more significantly in those 4 years, from 8.2% to 6.7%.

"Illicit drug use among youth [aged] 12-17 is at a 5-year low. That's definitely cause for celebration. Tobacco use continues to decline and perceptions about risk for marijuana use continue to increase, and that's a great combination," said Terry L. Cline, Ph.D., administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), at a press briefing.

But nonmedical use of prescription drugs among young adults aged 18-25 years increased from 5.4% in 2002 to 6.4% in 2006, largely because of a rise in the nonmedical use of pain relievers. "The survey also tells us there is much work left to be done. Many of these painkillers being abused are unused medications that should have been properly disposed [of]," Dr. Cline said.

SAMHSA currently is involved in a national point-of-purchase public education campaign to release information about the proper disposal of unused medications. The information soon will be available at more than 6,300 pharmacies across the country, he said.

Underage drinking is another area of concern, as the level among 12- to 20-year-olds remains unchanged since 2002, at 28.3% in 2006. The Surgeon General's recently released Call to Action to Reduce and Prevent Underage Drinking is part of an interagency effort to target the problem, Dr. Cline noted.

John P. Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), presented additional findings from the survey. Of note, he said, is that a huge difference in marijuana use was found between youth aged 12-17 years who reported that their parents strongly disapprove of marijuana use, at 4.6%, versus those who did not perceive strong parental disapproval, 26. …

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