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Prescription Drug Abuse Declines, Study Finds

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Abuse of prescription drugs such as the painkiller Oxycontin declined last year from 2007, reversing an upward trend, a U.S. drug survey finds.

About 6.2 million Americans -- 2.5 percent of the population -- said they abused prescription drugs in the past month in 2008, a decrease from 2.8 percent of the population in 2007, the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health released Thursday found, USA Today reported.

People are responding to health reports that emphasize the dangers of misuse, said Eric Broderick, acting administrator of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which conducted the survey of 67,500 people age 12 and older.

Methamphetamine use also declined, with people who reported using it the previous month dropping from 529,000 people in 2007 to 314,000 in 2008.

But illegal drug use by 50 to 59 year olds increased from 2.7 percent in 2002 to 4.6 percent in 2008, probably a result of baby-boom drug-users getting older, the report noted.

Also, the survey found that 8 percent of the population used an illegal drug in the past month, the same as in 2007.

Marijuana is the most common illicit drug: 6.1 percent of the population reported use the prior month, up from 5.8 percent in 2007. Among adolescents 12 to 17, 6.7 percent reported past-month use of marijuana in both 2008 and in 2007.

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