Prescription drug abuse up among young adults

WASHINGTON More young adults are abusing prescription medications, according to the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. According to the results, 7 million Americans over 12 years old used prescription psychotherapeutic drugs—including pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants or sedatives—nonmedically in the month preceding the survey.

Overall prescription drug abuse among U.S. young adults increased from 5.4 percent in 2005 to 6.4 percent in 2006. Of the nonmedical prescription drug users in 2006, 5.2 million used prescription pain relievers, an increase from 4.7 million in 2005.

"The abuse of prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons is of increasing concern," agency chief Terry Cline stated. "These are potent drugs that can have serious and life-threatening consequences if misused. Parents in particular need to be aware of this problem and take steps to prevent these medications from falling into the wrong hands."

In 2006, 2.6 million people over 12 years old used psychotherapeutic drugs nonmedically for the first time, with the most significant increase being among the use of stimulants. The primary source of the drugs (55.7 percent) were friends and relatives who gave them away for free. About 19 percent were obtained from a doctor, and only 0.1 percent were purchased over the Internet.

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