Prescription Painkiller Abuse in America
Prescription painkiller abuse in America is a growing problem. Over the past decade, abuse of these powerful narcotics has skyrocketed.
Stats on Painkiller Abuse
- 80% of all prescription painkillers are prescribed by only 20% of all physicians
- More than half (55%) of individuals abusing prescription painkillers obtained them for free from a friend or relative.
- Doctors write about 300,000,000 prescriptions a year for painkillers – enough for every adult American to be medicated around the clock for one month.
Prescription Painkiller Abuse in the 2000s
From 1999 to 2010:
- The use of prescription painkillers quadrupled.
- The quantity of prescription painkillers sold to pharmacies, hospitals, & doctors’ offices was 4x larger in 2010 than in 1999.
Since 2003, 22,000,000 Americans admitted to misusing prescription painkillers.
From 2004 to 2010, the number of people seeking treatment for prescription pain drug use has quadrupled.
For every 1 death from prescription painkillers:
- 10 people enter treatment for abuse
- 32 visit emergency departments for overdose, misuse, or abuse
- 130 abuse or misuse prescription painkillers.
- 825 people are non-medical users, who use pills without a doctor prescription for recreation or self-medication.
People get painkillers from a variety of sources:
- 4.4% Got from a dealer or stranger
- 4.8% Took from a friend or relative without asking
- 7.1% Other source
- 11.4% Bought from a friend or relative
- 17.3% Prescribed by one doctor
- 55% Obtained for free from a friend or relative
Learn more about Prescription Painkiller Abuse
You can learn more about prescription painkiller abuse in America in our in-depth report on painkiller addiction, which can be found here.