How Widespread Is the Prescription Drug Problem in the United States?
There is widespread use of central nervous system depressants, opioids, and stimulants throughout all parts of the United States. It is a continuous public health problem within major cities and communities. Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2017 an estimated 18 million Americans misused prescription drugs once that year. A 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported the following. Roughly 2 million Americans misused pain killers that year. An estimated 1.5 million Americans abused tranquilizers or sedatives. The abuse varies between different age groups and gender.
The prevalence of use is likely because of easy access to these drugs. Certain populations are more at risk within the country per the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2017, 14.4% of adults ages 18 to 25 used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons. That same year, 4.9% of adolescents ages 12 to 17 misused prescription drugs. Following alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco, prescription drugs are the most commonly used by American 12th graders. Surveys done by NIDA indicated roughly six percent of high school seniors misuse prescription drugs.
The numbers are staggering for older adults per the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Roughly more than 80% of adults between 57 and 85 use at least one prescription medication daily. It is estimated that around 50% take more than five prescription drugs daily. It is important to note not all these prescriptions are addictive drugs. In 2016 more than 84% of Americans had contact with a healthcare professional. Prescribing doctors are placed in unique positions to identify non-medical use. There is much that is done to prevent the abuse of prescription drugs. Yet, millions of prescriptions are given out every year for addictive substances.