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Key Statistics

  1. One in six teens has used a prescription drug (when a doctor had not prescribed it for them) in order to get high or change their mood, and most have gotten it from family or friends.
  • a. Source: 2011 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, sponsored by MetLife Foundation (1 in 6 teens using Rx)

  • b. Source: National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
  • 90 percent of addictions start in the teenage years.
  • a. Source: The Partnership at

  • b. Source: NSDUH
  • Prescription medicines are now the most commonly abused drugs among 12 to 13 year olds.
  • a. Source: NSDUH
  • Opioid pain relievers are responsible for more overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined.
  • a. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Two-thirds of teens who abuse pain relievers say they get them from family members and friends.
  • a. Source: NSDUH
  • Nonmedical use of prescription painkillers costs health insurers up to $72.5 billion annually.
  • a. Source: Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, 2007: “Drug diversion costs health insurers up to $72.5 billion a year (Prescription for Peril, Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, 2007)”

  • b. Source: CDC
  • Emergency department visits involving misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals has more than doubled between 2004 and 2010.
  • a. Source: Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Report, July 2, 2012

  • b. Additional Source: CESAR FAX July 16, 2012 “Estimated number of emergency department visits for misuse or abuse or pharmaceuticals more than doubles from 2004 to 2010”
  • The substantial increases in overdose death rates, sales and substance abuse treatments related to opioid pain relievers followed the same striking trajectory from 1999 to 2008.
  • a. Supply vs. Overdose Deaths (OD deaths increasing as supply goes up):

  • b. Source: CDC
  • One person dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose in the United States, and this increasing trend is driven by prescription painkillers.
  • a. Source: CDC
  • For every one prescription painkiller overdose death in 2009, there were:
  • Nine substance abuse treatment admissions for prescription painkillers
  • 30 emergency department visits for misuse or abuse of prescription painkillers
  • 118 people who abuse or are dependent on prescription painkillers
  • 795 past-year, non-medical users of prescription painkillers

  • a. Source: CDC
  • More Americans die from drug overdoses than in car crashes, and this increasing trend is driven by prescription painkiller overdoses.
  • a. Source: CDC
 U.S. 1980 - 2009
Updated July 24, 2015

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