Every year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) publishes the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The most recent edition involved interviews with 67,000 adolescent and adult Americans, and the results of the survey provide revealing insight into how trends are reshaping the picture of drug use, drug abuse and addiction in this country. To begin with, illicit drug use is on the increase overall, comparing figures from ten years ago to today.

Not all drugs, however, are becoming more widely used. In fact, marijuana is the only one of all the traditional street drugs which saw remarkable increases over the course of the past decade. The others all remained at levels which were basically the same as before, while many even decreased in popularity. The fact that some drugs became less common should not be taken to mean that fewer people are now using drugs in the United States. Instead, prescription drugs are filling the void left by the others, and indeed may be considered to be pushing the others off the stage.

How Many Americans Use Drugs

The NIDA survey found that 8.7 percent of Americans over the age of 12 admit to having used drugs in the past year. While 8.7 percent may not initially seem to be an enormous number, consider the fact that that adds up to 22.5 million people, a figure which is greater than the entire population of the largest metropolitan area in the country — New York — and which is approximately the same as the populations of the Chicago and Los Angeles-Orange County metro areas.

As reported above, the largest portion of these people were using marijuana, with an increase from 5.8 percent of the population in 2007 to 7 percent in 2011. Further, more than two-thirds of drug users said that they began with marijuana before moving on to harder drugs. Cocaine use declined from 1 percent of the population in 2006 to 0.5 percent in 2011. This may be partially attributed to the fact that increasing numbers of young people are abusing the stimulant ADHD medications by crushing up the pills to snort them. Adderall is actually amphetamine, while the chemical structure of Ritalin is substantially the same as cocaine, and it also has essentially the same effects on the brain. One in nine Americans between the ages of 12 and 25 years now admits to abusing prescription drugs.

Do Teenagers Use Drugs More Than Adults

Prescription drugs are not only popular among young people, but also throughout the population. Opiate painkillers including Vicodin and Oxycontin are now ranked as being the second most commonly abused drug after marijuana, and more people die from painkiller overdose every year — 15,000 — than the number of overdoses on the number three (cocaine) and four (heroin) drugs combined. This dramatic uptick in the abuse of prescription painkillers may also account for the fact that the NIDA survey demonstrated an increase in overall drug abuse among people over the age of 50, though this may also partially be explained by the fact that the Baby Boomer generation, which largely ushered in the drug use pandemic in the United States, is now approaching retirement age.

The highest concentration of drug users is among young adults in their late teens and early twenties, while the highest average rates of drug use are among 14- and 15-year-olds, indicating that drug use is an especially large problem among the American youth. This statistic bodes ill for the future of this country, since tomorrow’s leaders are now increasingly using drugs. A final alarming figure has to do with the overwhelming demand for help with treating drug abuse and addiction: Out of 21.6 million people in this country who need addiction treatment, only 2.3 million are now in rehab.

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Source:  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/2/prweb10401796.htm

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