(NaturalNews) Abuse of prescription painkillers in the United States increased 400 percent between 1998 and 2008, according to a study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
"The non-medical use of prescription pain relievers is now the second most prevalent form of illicit drug use in the nation, and its tragic consequences are seen in substance abuse treatment centers and hospital emergency departments throughout our nation" SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde said. "This public health threat demands that we follow the president's ... call for an all-out effort to raise awareness of this risk and the critical importance of properly using, storing, and disposing of these powerful drugs."
The rate of prescription painkiller abuse increased from 2.2 percent in 1998 to 9.8 percent in 2008 among U.S. residents over the age of 11, the researchers found, with roughly equal increases across the variables of gender, education, and employment status. Abuse increased in all races and ethnic groups, but the increase was greatest among non-Hispanic whites -- from 3.3 percent to 14.4 percent.
Although the study focused on painkillers, abuse of other prescription drugs is also on the rise.
"There is currently a nationwide epidemic of prescription drug abuse in this country," says Julian Whitaker of the Whitaker Wellness Institute, quoted in Side Effects: The Hidden Agenda of the Pharmaceutical Drug Cartel by Kenneth W Thomas, Ron Gilbert and Gerd Schaller. "In a report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, it was revealed that this type of drug abuse had nearly doubled from 7.8 million to 15.1 million from the years 1992 to 2003. Not only that, but teen abuse of prescription drugs had tripled. In 2003 there were 2.3 million kids between 12 to 17 years old who were abusing at least one prescription drug."