Fewer young adults abusing prescription drugs
The number of people age 18-25 abusing prescription drugs decreased 14% from 2010 through 2011, a new report shows.
September 24th, 2012
05:32 PM ET

Fewer young adults abusing prescription drugs

About 2.3 million children and adults abused prescription drugs for the first time last year, according to a new government survey on drug use in America.

That’s about 6,400 new prescription drug abusers a day—taking everything from pain relievers and tranquilizers to stimulants and sedatives.

But a Monday report on prescription drug abuse from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows a 14% drop in the number of young people aged 18 to 25 who are abusing prescription drugs - from 2 million in 2010 to 1.7 million last year.

“The fact that it dropped specifically among 18 to 25-year-olds was a very welcome piece of information, since this is a group of people who enter into the workforce and begin college and begin families. To see that their use was declining was good news for the nation,” said Dr. Peter Delany, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Prescription drug abuse starts on average at age 22. Among young people, only the use of marijuana is more common.

Public education initiatives and an increase in prescription drug monitoring programs may have contributed to the drop, Delany said. The decline was sharp enough to drive an overall 12% decline in the number of people abusing medicines.

Medicine abuse among teens aged 12 to 17 and in older adults was unchanged.

Only 6% of parents say they have a child who abused medicine, but 10% of teens admit such abuse, according to The Partnership at Drugfree.org.

Here’s five tips from the Partnership at Drugfree.org on how to safeguard pills:

1. Talk to your teen and warn them that taking prescription medications without a doctor's supervision can be just as dangerous and as potentially lethal as taking illicit drugs. For example, pain killers are made from opioids, the same substance as in heroin.

2. Keep medications hidden in your home – and out of easily accessible places like the medicine cabinet. Also, remind parents and family members whose homes your teen visits to keep prescription medications out of reach, rather than in the medicine cabinet, according to the partnership.

3. Ask your healthcare provider if any medications prescribed for your family have a potential for abuse.

4. Take an inventory of prescription and over-the-counter medications in your home. Pay attention to quantities.

5. If your child needs medications during school hours, speak with school officials about policies for distributing medication to students. If possible, personally take the medications to the school nurse. Make sure unused medications are returned to you.

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Alex lavrenov

    Hope its true, learn more and help spread the word @ http://addictioninamerica.tumblr.com

    September 24, 2012 at 18:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Bobby boshay

    I abuse prescription drugs when I drink from my tap water.

    September 24, 2012 at 18:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. felarhin

    Poverty – my anti-drug

    September 24, 2012 at 18:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • josh

      HA!!!! oh man,...... same here, good one!!!

      September 24, 2012 at 18:44 | Report abuse |
  4. HEY CNN

    The "Partnership for a Drug-Free America" is NOT the place for ANYONE to get information if they want true or accurate information on drugs.

    I AM DEADLY SERIOUS. They are well-known for distorting and falsifying information.
    As an example right there in the list, they state that "pain killers are made from opioids, the same substance as in heroin."

    There are many different types of pain-killers. A great many of them are not opiates, or opiate derivatives.
    All they are doing is deliberately LYING to terrorize people into being unable to make intelligent or accurate decisions on their medication needs.

    I demand that CNN remove this blatantly false propaganda from their website and instead use REAL and ACCURATE medical information when trying to "advise" the public on health issues.
    I suggest ACTUAL doctors and other ACTUAL medical professionals, which means that you should AVOID using ANYTHING from the "Partnership for a Drug-Free America".
    Their only agenda is to deny all drugs, no matter how helpful they may actually be, to all Americans.
    They hate all drugs and could care less about anything like the TRUTH.

    Get rid of this false information and stop using unreliable sources for your MEDICAL INFORMATION.

    September 24, 2012 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. ANONY

    muahahhaha keep trying pharma! You will NEVER get me hooked on pills. EVER! I am young, cute, skinny, and I dont smoke cigs, no alcohol and I dont even touch tylenol. I laugh and smile ^_^ Medical Marijuana is okay though LOL

    September 24, 2012 at 19:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JOH

      All marijuana is OK

      September 24, 2012 at 19:11 | Report abuse |
    • HomieDaClown

      I would have to agree.
      Smart girl.

      September 26, 2012 at 01:05 | Report abuse |
  6. JOH

    I hope it's true too but I doubt it. I am 21 and a lot of my peers from my age to 25 I know are abusing prescription drugs; primarily painkillers and psychoactive pills. Worst part is that these guys drink while on some serious painkillers. I've also met in my high school years tremendous amounts of kids experimenting with painkillers and prescription pills as well. It's very common; specifically for kids in the suburbs nowadays.

    September 24, 2012 at 19:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Tim

    I currently go to a very prominent university and I think this study is misguided and far from the truth. Marijuana use has become more and more frequent at state schools, and prescription drug use has become much more frequent at private schools. Our societies high expectations for our kids in an economy that is stagnant is leading to more and more kids indulging in drugs to find a way out. Considering most drug addicts stay indoors and do not submit to studies like this, I have no idea how this study can go out and say a headline like this. The sampling error is way to large for this study to go against what I have observed at numerous universities with my own two eyes.

    September 24, 2012 at 19:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pedanius D.

      I agree with Tim, It's ironic how a few statistics can be conveyed as "good news for the nation," but the majority of the comments so far have pretty much called shenanigans. As a member of this age group that has supposedly lowered prescription drug abuse by 14%, I would argue that yes opioid use is down, but only because the street prices of those drugs has risen considerably. Less college students are using them but i have noticed a significant increase in the use of stimulants across the board. Widely available, and cheaper than opioids(except the week before finals), amphetamines are the drug of choice by any college student that needs a good grade on an upcoming test. Therefore, less young adults are comatose on a couch giggling at south park re-runs, but more are studying for the entire 36 hours leading up to an exam. Of course these are just my observations as an undergrad at (insert name of any state school in the midwest) and could be completely off base with other big schools across the country.

      September 25, 2012 at 16:46 | Report abuse |
  8. Portland tony

    Probably caused by more prescriptions being written for young men and women because they are now covered under their parents' policy from age 18 through 26...... And being adults, the medications prescribed are not under the purview of their parents.......... And believe it or not there are doctors who make a living proscribing what the patient wants!

    September 24, 2012 at 20:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Odalice Feliz

    Some mental Health drugs that are prescribed for young adults, can lead a person to more problems, some even depression. Doctors should tell the patient what are the side-affects of the drugs so the patient can be alert for any systems.

    September 25, 2012 at 06:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Lovie

    This article is false were did they do their research? in Kentucky, parents share drugs with their teens and vise versa.

    September 25, 2012 at 11:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jack

    The addicts are probably just getting smarter about hiding it. Or the drug companies are getting better at manipulating statistics and sweeping things under the rug.

    September 25, 2012 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. cat

    Something else to consider: how many people who used to abuse opioids or other painkillers that are now in methadone clinics as part of their treatment? They might not be considered in the "abusing prescription drugs" catagory, because they are using a comparable drug as prescribed.

    September 25, 2012 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. 1tag2

    I don't believe RX abuse is down one bit. Medical Marijuana should be one of the first meds offered to many patients. It is much safer than most RX meds and can be grown at home. Big Pharma will have to keep shelling out millions to keep it illegal so they can make their money off deadly, addictive pills.

    September 25, 2012 at 17:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Marcy Walsh

    Teen prescription drug abuse has remained unchanged according to the same study. Go to medicineabuse.org and take the Pledge to prevent 500,000 teens from abusing medicine in five years.

    September 25, 2012 at 17:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Marcy Walsh

    Sorry that's medicineabuseproject.org!

    September 25, 2012 at 17:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Haze

    This is a complete nonsense, if anything the numbers are rising at an alarming rate.

    September 25, 2012 at 18:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Amanda Huggenkiss

    We just lowered our prescription standards and voila! the problem ees sol-ved.

    September 26, 2012 at 05:48 | Report abuse | Reply
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