Prescription drug abuse down, but marijuana rising

    Once a year, the Federal government conducts a confidential, anonymous survey to detect trends in the nation’s drug use.

    For 2011, the results are in and they’re what Dr. Peter Delany calls “some mixed results.”

    Delany is director of the group that organizes the survey, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. On the one hand, Delany says the percentage of people misusing prescription drugs such as oxycontin and vicodin has fallen to its lowest point in ten years, a point he expects will translate to fewer overall emergency room visits.

    But on the other hand, he says marijuana use has sharply increased since 2008, especially in young adults 18-25. Now 7 percent of Americans say they smoke that drug.

    He attributes this increase to “a decrease in the number of people who perceive that there’s harm from using marijuana,” said Delany, “as well as a decrease in the number of people seeing prevention messages.”

    The survey was conducted from a representative sample of 68,000 Americans.

    It also found decreases in tobacco use and underage drinking.

    No matter what the drug, one factor remains constant.

    “In all of our data,” said Delany, “parents continue to be the biggest influencer — including of teenagers and young adults — in helping kids make good decisions and show good judgment.”

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