Teen painkiller abuse up by 40%: study

The rate of prescription painkiller abuse among American youth is 40 percent higher than in previous generations, and is now the second most common type of illegal drug use after marijuana, according to a new study.

The study, which was published Oct. 16 in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that prescription painkiller abuse led to a 129 percent increase in emergency department visits between 2004 and 2009, as well as a more than 500 percent increase in the number of people seeking treatment for addiction to prescription opioids between 1997 and 2007. There was also a threefold increase in accidental overdose deaths between the 1990s and 2007, according to the study.

The study comes a month after a separate survey found that while the number of young adults who reported using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in the last month decreased slightly from 2 million to 1.7 million, pill abuse among children ages 12 to 17 and among adults 26 and older remained unchanged – and the number of people who reported heroin use in the past year rose from 373,000 in 2007 to 620,000 in 2011.

About Erin Marie Daly

I’m a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. My book on prescription drug and heroin addiction was published in August 2014 by Counterpoint Press.
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