Drug consumption in the United States continues to increase. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2010, about 22.6 million Americans aged 12 and older were reported being illegal drug users, representing 8.9 percent of the population. This is the largest proportion in the past decade of people aged 12 and older identified as current illegal drug users.
Drug abuse and addiction costs the United States $193 billion a year in preventable health care, law enforcement and addiction expenses. President Obama and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) have reconfigured U.S. drug policy to increasingly focus on curbing the U.S. demand for illegal drugs.
ONDCP views prescription drug abuse as “the Nation’s fastest growing drug problem. Overdose deaths from prescription painkillers now outnumber deaths involving heroin and cocaine
combined, accounting for 20,044 of 36,450 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2008. Painkillers and
prescription drugs are often purchased on the Internet, without a valid prescription
Dangerous, new synthetic drugs are being chemically produced to mimic the active ingredients in drugs such as methamphetamine and marijuana. These include synthetic cannabinoids, such as K2 and Spice, and synthetic stimulants, including so-called bath salts. The American Association of Poison Control Centers has noted that centers nationally received 6,348 calls about synthetic marijuana in 2011. There were 2,882 calls in 2010 which is up from a reported 14 calls in 2009. Additionally, there were 5,853 calls into poison centers concerning “bath salts” use in 2011 which is a significant increase from 303 calls in 2010.