Although prescription drug abuse and misuse affects people of all ages, backgrounds and economic status, there are some specific populations that tend to be more vulnerable or susceptible to abuse.
• For the younger population, including young adults, records show that in 2013, the rate of past year nonmedical pain reliever use among those aged 12 to 17 was 4.6%. For those ages 18 to 25, the rate was 8.8%.
• In 2013, youths aged 12 to 17, or young adults aged 18 to 25, were more likely to misuse prescription drugs in the past year than adults aged 26 or older.
• On an average day during the past year, an average of 2,500 adolescents used prescription pain relievers non-medically for the first time.
A 2013 SAMHSA study shows that emergency department visits for drug misuse or abuse by youth aged 12 to 17 on a typical day include:
• 74 for prescription or nonprescription pain relievers
• 32 for antidepressants or antipsychotics
• 31 for benzodiazepines
• 26 for narcotic pain relievers
• 11 for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder medications
Older adults are likely to experience more problems with relatively small amounts of medications because of increased medication sensitivity, and slower metabolism and elimination. Older adults are at higher risk for medication misuse than the general population because of their elevated rates of pain, sleep disorders/insomnia, and anxiety. They also may experience cognitive decline, which could lead to improper use of medications.
• The combination of alcohol and medication misuse has been estimated to affect up to 19% of older Americans.
• Approximately 25% of older adults use prescription psychoactive medications that have a potential to be misused and abused.
• Older adults are more likely to take prescribed psychoactive medications for longer periods of time than younger adults.
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