WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (UPI) — The fastest-growing drug problem in the United States is prescription drug abuse, often via the medicine cabinet, the White House drug policy director says.
Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office National Drug Control Policy, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health that estimates 21.8 million Americans, or 8.7 percent ages 12 or older, used illicit drugs in the past month — an increase of 9 percent from 20.1 million in 2008.
For people age 12 and older, the 2009 estimate of 5.3 million current non-medical users is up 20 percent from the 2002 estimate of 4.4 million, while of the 2.6 million new prescription drug users in 2009, 2.2 million were non-medical users of prescription pain relievers, Kerlikowske says.
“The data highlight how serious a threat to public health we face from the abuse of prescription drugs,” Kerlikowske says in a statement. “The congressional leaders responsible for today’s forum come from both sides of the aisle, because prescription drug abuse crosses all party lines, income levels, and races.”
Prescription drugs commonly abused often come from the family medicine cabinet, and people should dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs to prevent diversion and abuse. Saturday, nationwide, there will be a collection effort to take and properly dispose of old and expired prescriptions. For a nearby collection site, visit www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/takeback/.
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