Prescription Drug Addiction Statistics

A number of surveys and studies are sponsored by universities and the government each year to better understand who is using what prescription drug, how much, and how often.

Americans are abusing all manner of addictive prescription drugs, including:

Some use the drugs non-medically because they are offered them or find them in the medicine cabinet, unused, at home. Others are given a legitimate prescription by their doctor in order to manage chronic pain. In both cases, the end result can be an addiction, and when addiction strikes, the risks include:

  • Accident under the influence
  • Chronic health problems
  • Social issues, including financial loss, legal problems, and problems at home
  • Overdose and death

Prescription Drug Statistics

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the following characterized prescription drug abuse and addiction in the United States:

  • More young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 abuse prescription drugs than any other age group. About 13 percent of Americans in this age group reported the non-medical use of prescription drugs in the past year.
  • More than 3,000 young Americans died due to prescription drug overdose in 2010. That averages out to eight people per day. That number is a 250-percent increase from 1999.
  • About 4 percent of those over the age of 26 and 7 percent of those between the ages of 12 and 17 abused prescription medications non-medically in the past year.

Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that:

  • Approximately 6.7 million Americans over the age of 12 abused prescription drugs in the past month. About 15.7 million Americans in the same age group reported past-year non-medical use of prescription medications.
  • Prescription drug abuse was the second most common type of drug abuse in the country.
  • Higher rates of prescription painkillers were in evidence among those living in urban counties as compared to rural counties. The rate of sedative abuse did not vary by county type.

What Is the Future for Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction?

The FDA, DEA, and state and local governments are working hard to implement legislation that not only puts into place limitations and regulations that stop those who would abuse the prescription drug system but also to make sure that medical professionals utilized those protocols in order to maximize their efficacy.

For example, statewide prescription drug databases have been implemented in almost every state. These computer systems are open to all doctors and pharmacists, allowing them to check the prescription history of patients and verify the accuracy of the scripts brought in to be filled. The issue, however, is that not all doctors are making use of the systems, and when this occurs, patients living with an active addiction and in need of help may fall through the cracks.

On the other hand, in areas where the crackdown on clinics that hand out a fraudulent number of painkiller prescriptions and databases are doing their work, many patients addicted to pills are turning to a more readily available source to maintain their opiate addiction: heroin. Cheaper, easy to get on the black market, and similar in effect, it means that many patients are struggling with a dependence upon both painkillers and heroin in many parts of the country.

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Fight Prescription Drug Dependence

Learn more about the opiate detox and addiction treatment options available whether your loved one is addicted to painkillers, heroin or both. At Alta Mira, we’re here to help.