Today, Reuters hypes the “prescription drug abuse epidemic” with the claim that
the federal data also show nearly 7 million Americans abused prescription drugs in 2007 – more than cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, Ecstasy and inhalants such as marijuana combined.”
Leaving aside the fact that marijuana isn’t an inhalant and the fact that, unless the reporter got advance data, the most recent survey is 2006, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report says that “Marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug [with] 14.8 million past month users.” That’s twice the number of past-month prescription drug misusers – and we haven’t even gotten into cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and hallucinogens.
Nor have we mentioned that most prescription drug abusers who haven’t just taken their mom’s codeine once are also using other drugs, so some of these numbers are counting the same people multiple times.
Someone read a chart wrong, because it’s clearly impossible for the 2006 numbers to have changed that dramatically in a year, with marijuana use cut more than in half and prescription misuse doubling.