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Key Statistics

GO TO the Medicine Abuse Project website

  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.
    1. Source: 2011 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, sponsored by MetLife Foundation (1 in 6 teens using Rx)
    2. Source: National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
  2. 90 percent of addictions start in the teenage years.
    1. Source: The Partnership at
    2. Source: NSDUH
  3. Prescription medicines are now the most commonly abused drugs among 12 to 13 year olds.
    1. Source: NSDUH
  4. Opioid pain relievers are responsible for more overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined.
    1. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  5. Two-thirds of teens who abuse pain relievers say they get them from family members and friends.
    1. Source: NSDUH
  6. Nonmedical use of prescription painkillers costs health insurers up to $72.5 billion annually.
    1. 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)”
    2. Source: CDC
  7. Emergency department visits involving misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals has more than doubled between 2004 and 2010.
    1. Source: Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Report, July 2, 2012
    2. 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”
  8. 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.
    1. Supply vs. Overdose Deaths (OD deaths increasing as supply goes up):
    2. Source: CDC
  9. One person dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose in the United States, and this increasing trend is driven by prescription painkillers.
    1. Source: CDC
  10. For every one prescription painkiller overdose death in 2009, there were:
    1. Nine substance abuse treatment admissions for prescription painkillers
    2. 30 emergency department visits for misuse or abuse of prescription painkillers
    3. 118 people who abuse or are dependent on prescription painkillers
    4. 795 past-year, non-medical users of prescription painkillers
    5. Source: CDC
  11. More Americans die from drug overdoses than in car crashes, and this increasing trend is driven by prescription painkiller overdoses.
    1. Source: CDC
 U.S. 1980 - 2009
Updated July 24, 2015

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