2006 National Survey on Drug Use & Health: National Results

U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Illicit drug use among youth ages 12 to 17 is at a five-year low, according to newly released 2006 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. But the non-medical use of painkillers continues to cause concern, with initiations for that form of abuse (2.2 million) higher than for any other illicit drug, according to researchers.

Since 2002, overall current illicit drug use among this age group declined from 11.6 percent in 2002 to 9.8 percent in 2006. At the same time, current marijuana use decreased from 8.2 percent in 2002 to 6.7 percent in 2006. The decline in marijuana use was particularly pronounced in male youths. According to the study, 5.2 million persons aged 12 or older had used prescription-type painkillers non-medically in the past month. Of those, more than half reported that they obtained the painkillers from “a friend or relative for free.”

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