Federal survey produces mixed findings on drug abuse

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WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal officials see some improvement in national substance abuse trends, but also some concerns.

Among the data they find encouraging in the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health is a decline in prescription drug abuse, from seven million people in 2010 to just over six million last year. But White House drug policy director Gil Kerlikowske says the findings are mixed. He says the survey shows “steady progress” but also “a troubling picture in the rise of heroin use.” He says it’s “a trend that warrants close monitoring and concerted action.”

Binge drinking also went up. Health and Human Services substance abuse chief Pamela Hyde says more than 20 million Americans, or eight percent, were classified with substance dependence or abuse.

Hyde calls it “a huge public health issue.” She says behavioral health conditions lead to more deaths than HIV-AIDS, traffic accidents and breast cancer combined.

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