Prescription pharmaceuticals were second only to marijuana as the substances abused by the largest number of new drug abusers in the U.S. aged 12 or older, according to a new report by the International Narcotics Control Board. But pill abuse has also become problematic elsewhere, the report says: in South Africa, for example, about 7 percent of patients in treatment for drug abuse reported prescription opioids or tranquillizers to be their primary or secondary drug of abuse.
In addition, the report says, the annual prevalence rate of abuse of prescription analgesics among persons aged 14 years and older in Australia has increased considerably, from 3.7 percent in 2007 to 4.2 percent in 2010 – the second highest rate since 1995.
Meanwhile, South Asia is experiencing increasing problems related to the abuse of and trafficking in prescription drugs due to their low cost, high profit margin and easy availability, as well as the misperception that they are less harmful than illicitly manufactured drugs. South Asia is a major source of most of the pharmaceutical preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances that are sold throughout the world by illegally operating Internet pharmacies, the report adds.