Performance Improvement 2007. What Is the Extent of Non-Medical Use of Prescriptions Drugs in the United States?



An analysis was carried out on combined data from the 2002, 2003, and 2004 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. The analysis examined the non-medical use of prescription psychotherapeutic drugs (pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives). Non-medical use is defined as the use of medications without a prescription or merely for the experience or feeling the drug causes, rather than for its intended medical purpose. The annual surveys, including a combined total of over 200,000 respondents, collected information about drug use and health among representative samples of the civilian, non-institutionalized population of the United States aged 12 and older.

Perhaps the most important finding of this study is that the non-medical use of prescription psychotherapeutic drugs—and of pain relievers in particular—is now second only to marijuana use among the Nation's most prevalent drugs. In addition, the annual average number of persons who started using pain relievers non-medically in the past year exceeded the number for marijuana (2.4 million vs. 2.1 million). An estimated 2 million persons were determined to be dependent on or to abuse prescription psychotherapeutics in the past year. Among those who abused or were dependent on prescription psychotherapeutics, only an estimated 290,000 persons received treatment for illicit drug use during the past year.

Report Title: Misuse of Prescription Drugs:Data from the 2002, 2003, and 2004 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health
Agency Sponsor: SAMHSA, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Federal Contact: Colliver, James, 240-276-1252
Performer: RTI International; Research Triangle Park, NC
PIC ID: 8302

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"PerformanceImprovement2007.pdf" (pdf, 717.63Kb)

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