Federal surveys reveal cyclical trends in drug abuse — but the number of lifetime users keeps growing.
Reports, such as the Drug Test Index, from Quest Diagnostics, are misleading as they report "positive rates" for urine laboratory drug testing predominantly. This form of testing is little more than an intelligence test for drug abusers, and rarely includes prescription drugs such as oxycontin, vicodin, and lortab.
Overall abuse rates were highest in the 1970s, declined through the early ’90s, went back up and now seem to have stabilized over the past six years.
That said, the increasing abuse of prescription medicines among all age groups has created a serious health hazard.
Survey after survey shows the vast scope of illegal drug use — deep-rooted in all regions, among all races and socio-economic groups. Big cities indeed have severe problems, but the states with the highest overall abuse rates include Rhode Island, Vermont, Montana and Alaska.
“There’s this assumption that drug abuse is more common in racial minorities, especially blacks,” said Dr. Wilson Compton, a division director at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “It’s not true. Either the rates are lower or at least no higher.”
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