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Drug use survey results show future trends

At this time of year there is more attention put on alcohol and drug abuse issues than any other. After wrapping up National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month in September, the Federal Government released the latest drug use statistics from around the country.

One of the categories the National Survey on Drug Use and Health tracks is substance use initiation, meaning the first time someone uses a drug. Knowing when first-time use occurs for each drug helps policymakers, researchers and addiction professionals by letting them know what areas to focus on in their drug prevention efforts.

In 2005, an estimated 2.9 million persons aged 12 or older used an illicit drug for the first time within the past 12 months; this averages to nearly 8,000 initiates per day. More than half first-time users were younger than age 18, and the majority of new users (56.2 percent) were female.

According to the survey, the specific drug categories with the largest number of recent initiates among persons aged 12 or older were non-medical use of pain relievers (2.2 million) and marijuana use (2.1 million), followed by non-medical use of tranquilizers (1.3 million), then by use of inhalants (0.9 million) and cocaine (0.9 million).

This means that prescription drugs have surpassed marijuana in the "drug of choice" category for young people to try first. This information is also an indicator of the continued boom in prescription drug addiction among adults as well.

"Drug education and prevention is important for adults as well as kids," says JT Daily, Director of Drug Education for Narconon Arrowhead "We must get the truth out to all people that all drugs can be potentially harmful, and these statistics prove that."

For more information or to get help for a loved one battling with addiction to prescription drugs or other substances, contact Narcotics Anonymous. Information can be found online at or contact a local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

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