Drug addiction statistics show that prescription drugs, especially pain relievers, are replacing all other addictive substances as today’s “addiction of choice.” The number of deaths from prescription drug overdose is steadily escalating, and according to the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, while the United States reports only 6% of the world’s population, it consumes 80% of the world’s prescription pain medication. These alarming facts and others give rise to a growing concern about the way medications are prescribed and used in the United States. The good news is that an increasing number of people are recognizing the problem and seeking treatment.

Alarming Facts about Prescription Drug Abuse:

  1. One person dies from a prescription drug overdose about every 20 minutes. Those who abuse opioids, depressants, and antidepressants represent close to 50% of overdose deaths. The incidence of death from overdose of prescription painkillers is more than deaths from methamphetamine, cocaine, and amphetamines combined.
  2. More than 20% of American adults are being treated for a psychiatric or behavioral disorder with prescription drugs, some of which are highly addictive.
  3. In young adults, deaths from the abuse of pain medication outnumber deaths from car accidents.
  4. At least one psychoactive drug is prescribed to about 30% of foster children. Many are prescribed medications like Xanax, Ritalin, or similar behavior modification drugs that are known to be addictive.
  5. There has been a drastic rise in the number of women abusing pain relievers and antidepressants.
  6. 75% of doctor visits for chronic pain result in prescriptions for pain medication.
  7. About 70% of those taking pain killers get their first dose from a family member or friend. About 20% received pain killer prescriptions from a physician. Fewer than 5% bought prescription painkillers from a drug dealer.
  8. 10% of high school seniors have admitted to painkiller abuse.
  9. People can become physically dependent on prescribed drugs in as little as two weeks after taking the first dose.
  10. In 2002, 360,000 people were admitted to treatment centers for painkiller abuse. That number rose to 973,000 just three years ago.

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