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Painkiller Abuse Increases Among Young Adults

But adolescent use of prescription pain relievers has dropped, report shows

MONDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Misuse of prescription painkillers among young adults increased from 4.1 percent in 2002 to 4.6 percent in 2007, a government report released Monday shows.

However, the researchers from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also found that non-medical use of painkillers by teenagers decreased from 3.2 percent in 2002 to 2.7 percent in 2007.

In 2007, a total of 5.2 million people aged 12 and older (including 1.5 million young adults) said they'd misused prescription pain relievers in the past month, according to the report, which is based on a series of nationwide surveys.

The report, Trends in Nonmedical Use of Prescription Pain Relievers: 2002-2007, also found that the rate of use among males aged 12 or older increased from 2 percent in 2002 to 2.6 percent in 2007, but there was no significant change among females. During that same time, non-medical use of painkillers among adults aged 26 or older increased from 1.3 percent to 1.6 percent.

"Everyone can help prevent prescription drug misuse: The steps are simple. Use medications as prescribed, store them in a secure place and dispose of unused medications properly," SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick said in a news release.

The report is based on data collected from about 405,000 people who took part in SAMHSA's National Surveys on Drug Use and Health from 2002 to 2007.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about prescription drug abuse.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, news release, Feb. 9, 2009

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