When you hear drug addiction what do you picture? The homeless man on the street asking for money to feed his heroin addiction? The young strung-out junkie who will do anything to get high?
Do you think about prescription drugs when you hear drug addiction? Are Ambien, Opana, OxyContin, Adderall, Vicodin, or Xanax in your awareness?
Prescription drug abuse statistics may surprise you, and alter your perception of addiction. With the input of the National Institute of Health, I hope to open your eyes to the growing problem that is prescription drug abuse.
Over 7 million people in the United States abuse prescription drugs on a regular basis (that doesn’t include illegal drugs or alcohol abuse.) That’s close to 3% of all U.S. residents, and about 20% of the population has abused a prescription drug at some point.
Of those 7 millions:
around 5 million are painkillers like hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine, oxycodone (OxyContin), and oxymorphone (Opana),
about 2 million are tranquilizers or sedatives, also called benzodiazepines and barbiturates, like Valium, Xanax, Quaaludes, and Mebaral, and
approximately 1 million are stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine.
Where are people getting prescription drugs to abuse at such high levels? Close to 4 billion prescriptions are written each year in America.
A large part of abuse comes from other people taking pills that were prescribe to someone else. You have a friend who is prescribed Vicodin for back pain. He sells your half of his prescription, and now you have half a month’s worth of a powerful and highly-addictive painkiller for no medical reason.
Kids and young adults find prescription drugs in their parents’ medicine cabinets and start taking them, without really understanding the risk involved. 1 in 12 high school seniors has taken Vicodin without a prescription. 1 in 20 have used OxyContin. How did they get their hands on these dangerous drugs? 70% were given the pills by a friend or relative.
Also look at the way prescription drug abuse is portrayed in the media. There is a pill for everything, advertised on TV, and then celebrities with major drug problems are almost glorified.
Prescription drug abuse statistics are alarming, but do nothing when ignored.
Prescription drug abuse accounts for the largest percentage of drug overdoses, and painkillers are the main culprit. If roughly 7 million people need to be treated for prescription drug abuse, what percentage actually have access to rehab and are adequately treated? The percentage is low; generally around 10% of the people who need treatment are actually receiving it.
Hopefully prescription drug abuse statistics can shed some light on the growing problem in our country, and around the world.