Prescription-drug abuse in the United States declined last year to the lowest rate since 2002 amid federal and state crackdowns on drug-seeking patients and over-prescribing doctors, says USA Today. Young adults drove the drop. The number of people 18 to 25 who regularly abuse prescription drugs fell 14 percent to 1.7 million, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported Monday. In 2011, 3.6 percent of young adults abused pain relievers, the lowest rate in a decade.
The survey, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, collects data from interviews with 67,500 people age 12 and older. Administrator Pamela Hyde said the decrease in abuse indicates that public health and law enforcement efforts to curb abuse of prescription drugs, such as the powerful painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone, work. In 2011, 6.1 million people abused narcotic pain pills, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives, down from 7 million people in 2010, the survey found. Pain pill abuse dropped from 2.1 percent of the population in 2009 to 1.7 percent in 2011. Still, the number of people addicted to pain relievers grew from 936,000 in 2002 to 1.4 million in 2011. About a third of the addicts are 18 to 25, the survey found.