Abuse of prescription drugs is “epidemic,” with teenagers the fastest-growing group of new abusers, concludes a new study reported by the Washington Post. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University said the problem has not drawn adequate attention from health and law enforcement agencies, physicians, pharmacists, and parents.
Abusers of prescription drugs — 15.1 million people — exceed the combined number abusing cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants and heroin, said the report. Of those, 2.3 million are teenagers, but youngsters turn to prescription drugs at much higher rates than do adults. Teenagers were reported to be arranging “pharming parties” where they swap drugs they have spirited from home or purchased off the streets or online. “Availability is the mother of abuse,” said center chairman Joseph A. Califano Jr. “When I was young my parents would lock their liquor cabinet. It may be parents should be thinking of locking their medicine cabinets.” The three-year study analyzed 15 national data sets, collected information on Internet pharmacies, and conducted interviews and surveys among doctors and pharmacists.