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Youth Drug Use at a Five Year Low, New Survey Shows
Date:9/6/2007

25 Percent Drop in Marijuana Use by Teen Boys More Youths Starting Drug Use with Painkillers Than Marijuana; Prescription

Drug Abuse Remains a Concern

WASHINGTON, Sept. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Overall illicit drug use among teens ages 12-17 is at a five year low, according to the largest and most comprehensive study of drug use in the United States, released today. But when it comes to youth, nonmedical use of painkillers continues to be an area of concern, with more recent initiates (2.2 million) than any illicit drug, reveals the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

Since 2002, current illicit drug use among 12- to 17-year-olds is down from 11.6 percent (2002) to 9.8 percent (2006), marking a cumulative decrease of 16 percent. In that same time period, current marijuana use also decreased 18 percent (from 8.2 percent in 2002 to 6.7 percent in 2006). The decline in marijuana use was particularly pronounced in male youths, from 9.1 percent in 2002 to 6.8 percent in 2006, or a decrease of 25 percent.

Abuse of prescription drugs among youth, however, continues to be an area of concern. Nonmedical use of painkillers was the illicit drug use category with the largest number of recent initiates among persons aged 12 or older (2.2 million). According to the study, seven million persons aged 12 or older used prescription-type psychotherapeutic drugs nonmedically in the past month. Of these, 5.2 million used painkillers, a 10 percent increase from 2005 (4.7 million). And, among persons aged 12 or older who used painkillers nonmedically in the past 12 months, 55.7 percent reported that they obtained the drugs from "a friend or relative for free."

"Teens are getting the message about the harms of marijuana and are changing their behavior -- for the better," said John P. Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy. "However, youth abuse of prescription drugs remains a troubling concern.
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SOURCE Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)
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