Illicit drug use and the misuse of prescription medications are widespread problems in the United States. Approximately 23 million Americans aged 12 or older, or roughly 9 percent of the population in this age group, are current illicit drug users. These substances include marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants — but these aren’t the only drugs that can harm people’s health — as the 23 million also include Americans who engage in the nonmedical use of prescription-type pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives. Approximately 6 million Americans report that they currently use prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes.
Most young people refrain from using illicit drugs, but an estimated 1 in 10 youth aged 12 to 17 is a current illicit drug user. Drug use among people of all ages is dangerous because it can lead to addiction, reduced self-control and impaired decision-making, in addition to other serious physical consequences. Some drugs can alter the brain in ways that persist after the person has stopped taking drugs, and which may even be permanent.
Learn what you can do to help protect your loved ones and community by downloading the Fact Sheet for Prevention of Prescription Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Use in the U.S. [PDF] from SAMHSA
- SAMHSA’s Treatment Locator – A searchable directory of drug and alcohol treatment programs. The Treatment Locator shows the location of facilities around the country that treat drug abuse and alcohol problems.
- “Above the Influence” campaign – A resource from The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the campaign website provides materials and information directed toward teens.
- NIDA for Teens – A resource from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) that offers facts for teens about prescription drug abuse and illicit drug use. NIDA InfoFacts also provides updated information on the health effects of specific drugs, including club drugs and herbal mixtures.
- Ignoring Instructions: The Importance of Using Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications Properly – SAMHSA’s Road to Recovery Webcast gives an overview of prescription drug abuse and discusses people who are at risk.