Four Million Americans Abused Prescription Drugs in 1999
Four million Americans abused prescription drugs in 1999, and two million of them used prescription medications for nonmedical purposes for the first time that year, a new report from the NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse says. NIDA Director Alan Leshner said these figures illustrate that the problem is "growing." According to the report, the elderly, women and adolescents are most likely to abuse prescription medications. For example, 17% of Americans age 60 and older are affected by prescription drug abuse, mostly because that age group uses three times more of the medications than do younger people, Leshner said. Women, who are two to three times as likely to be diagnosed as needing prescription medications, are about two times as likely to become addicted (Recer, AP/Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, 4/11). In the report, Leshner says that NIDA prepared the paper to "answer questions about the consequences of abusing commonly prescribed medications" and to "help health care providers discuss the consequences of prescription drug abuse with their patients." He notes, "Prescription drug abuse is not a new problem, but one that deserves renewed attention" (NIDA, "Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction," April 2001).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.