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The White House
For Immediate Release

Statement from White House Drug Policy Director Kerlikowske on HHS Report Showing Declines in Prescription Drug Abuse

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released the following statement in response to survey data from the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) showing significant declines in the non-medical use of prescription drugs:

“These results are encouraging, but we cannot afford to take our eyes off the ball.  The abuse of painkillers in America continues to take too many lives, tear apart too many families, and place too many burdens on communities across the nation.   According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription drug abuse remains an epidemic. 

The good news is that today’s findings prove yet again that we are not powerless against the problem of substance abuse in America. Since day one, the Obama Administration has pursued a bipartisan and holistic approach to this challenge. I am heartened by this progress because it shows that our prescription drug abuse action plan is working to make America healthier and safer. We still have more work to do, but we remain steadfast in our commitment to reversing this epidemic through a balanced approach.”

According to new data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the number of young adults (people aged 18 to 25) who used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in the past month declined 14 percent -- from 2 million in 2010 to 1.7 million in 2011. This decline has driven an overall 12 percent decline in the number of Americans abusing prescription drugs.  

To address the problem of prescription drug abuse, the Administration has released Epidemic: Responding to America's Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis. A national framework for reducing prescription drug diversion and abuse, the plan supports the expansion of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs, more convenient and environmentally responsible disposal methods to remove unused medications from the home, education for patients and healthcare providers, and reducing the prevalence of pill mills and doctor shopping through enforcement efforts.

The number of The National Survey on Drug Use and Health is a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 70,000 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older.  Because of its statistical power, it is the nation’s premier source of statistical information on the scope and nature of many substance abuse and mental health issues affecting the nation. The complete survey findings are available on the SAMHSA web site at: for more information about SAMHSA visit:

For more information on Administration drug policy and efforts to reduce drug use and its consequences visit