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Baby Boomers, Teens, Prescriptions Are Drug Abuse Of Choice

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, September 05, 2008 11:38 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Drug Use, Prescription Drug Use, Prescription Drug Abuse, Drug Abuse, OxyContin, Prescriptions, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Teenagers, Baby Boomers

Baby boomers and teenagers both choose prescription drugs over illicit ones, survey finds.



IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockphoto/ pouring pills/ author: VisualField


Typically, young adults or teenagers have had the highest rates of illegal drug abuse. 

But a new national survey shows a decline in some illegal drug use among teens and an increase in prescription drug abuse among Baby Boomers ages 55 to 59.

The survey included more than 67,000 participants and ran from 2002 to 2007.

It is the nation’s largest snapshot on drug, alcohol and tobacco use.  A breakdown by states will be released later.

Among Teens to age 25

A new national survey shows a continuing trend among young people to opt for prescription pills over pot when choosing to get high.

The report, the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), shows a decline overall in teen substance abuse, including cocaine, marijuana, LSD, Ecstasy and meth in 2007 as compared to 2002.

Illicit drug use among 12 to 17-year-olds dropped from 11.6 percent to 9.5 percent in 2007.

For 18 to 25 year olds, cocaine use dropped 23 percent, while methamphetamine use fell by one third.

Marijuana use among the youngest surveyed declined from 8.2 percent to 6.7 percent in 2007.

Even prescription drug use was down overall, but when there is a choice to get high, “gateway drugs,” or introductory drugs usually were prescription drugs.

About 2.5 million newly initiated teen users tried prescription drugs for the first time. Marijuana was next with 2.1 million new users.

"There's the perception that they're not as harmful and that they certainly can't be as bad as cocaine, meth or a street drug. Teens want to experiment and, if there's something that's easy to access, they will experiment with that," John O'Neill, with the addition services for the Menninger Clinic, a psychiatric hospital said to the Houston Chronicle.

The rising abuse of legal, controlled medications shows how easy it is to find these drugs and the misguided belief that they aren't dangerous, said John P. Walters, director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, in an interview after a news conference presenting the survey in Washington.

More than half of those who abused prescription pain relievers got them free from a friend or relative, the survey found.

Teens surveyed last month, said that prescription drugs were easier to get than beer.

Teen Drinking to Age 25

Among 18 to 25 year olds, 42 percent said they binge drink and 15 percent say they are heavy drinkers. 

Among 12 to 17 year olds, 16 percent said they are current drinkers and 10 percent binge drink, while 2 percent said they are heavy drinkers.

More than half drink in “somebody else’s home”.  32 percent are whites, 28 percent American Indians or Alaska natives and 18 percent African-Americans.

Slightly more than half of those 12 and older said they are current drinkers.

Baby Boomers

For the older set, baby boomers surveyed ages 55 to 59, their illicit drug use more than doubled to 4.1 percent in 2007 indicating they continue their abuse of substances as they age.  

Mental Health

The survey also examined mental health issues. 

24.3 million Americans ages 18 and up had experienced a serious psychological problem and 16.5 million Americans had at least one episode of major depression last year.

Those in the mental health field have long understood that there is a relationship between mental health and substance abuse, as people try to self medicate with alcohol and drugs to feel better.

SAMHSA is a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The national Drug Control Policy office believes its efforts against methamphetamine, cocaine and illegal drugs use are working.

The FDA compiled reports from 1998 to 2005 and finds that dangerous side effects and deaths from prescription and over-the-counter medications almost tripled to nearly 90,000 incidents.  

Potent narcotic painkiller OxyContin was among the 15 drugs most often linked to death. Others include insulin, Vioxx, Remicade, and Paxil.  Vioxx was removed from the market in 2004. #

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