Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics

The following are prescription drug abuse statistics taken from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the 2006 Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey (PATS), the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), Monitoring the Future (MTF), and the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS).

  1. In 2005, 2.1 million teens abused prescription drugs. (NSDUH 2006)
  2. Prescription drugs are the most commonly abused drugs among 12- to 13-year-olds. (NSDUH 2006)
  3. One-third of all new abusers of prescription drugs in 2005 were 12- to 17-year-olds. (NSDUH 2006)
  4. Nearly all poison deaths in the US are due to drugs, and most drug poisonings result from the abuse of prescription and illegal drugs. (CDC 2007)
  5. In 2006, for the first time there were just as many new prescription drug abusers above age 12 as new marijuana users. (SAMHSA 2006)
  6. About one in five teens report abusing prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them. (PATS 2006)
  7. Four out of 10 teens think that prescription medications are safer than illegal drugs, even if they weren’t prescribed by a doctor. (PATS 2006)
  8. About 3 in 10 teens think prescription painkillers are not addictive.
  9. About half of teens who abuse prescription painkillers say they are easy to get from their parents’ medicine cabinets; half of teens say the drugs are easy to obtain through other people’s prescriptions, and more than half say the drugs are available “everywhere.” (PATS 2006)
  10. Fifty-six percent of teens say that prescription drugs are easier to obtain than illegal drugs. (PATS 2006)
  11. Fourteen percent of teens have been offered prescription drugs at some point in their lives, compared to 10 percent of teens who have been offered cocaine, 9 percent of teens who have been offered ecstasy, 6 percent who have been offered methamphetamine, and 5 percent who have been offered LSD. (CASA 2006)
  12. Fourteen-year-olds are four times more likely to be offered prescription drugs than 15-year-olds. (CASA 2006)
  13. Teenage prescription drug abuse is on the rise, and teen girls are more likely to abuse prescription drugs than teen boys (9.9 percent of girls vs. 8.2 percent of boys). (SAMHSA 2006)
  14. Girls between 12 and 17 had higher rates of dependence or abuse than boys in the same age range. (SAMHSA 2006)
  15. Prescription painkillers are abused most often by 12- to 17-year-olds, followed by stimulants, tranquilizers, and sedatives. (NSDUH 2006)
  16. Past-year abuse of OxyContin among 8th graders increased from 1.3 percent in 2002 to 2.6 percent in 2006. (MTF 2006)
  17. Five of the top six drugs abused by 12th graders in the past year were prescription drugs or cough and cold medicines. (MTF 2006)
  18. In 2004, more than 29 percent of teens in treatment were dependent on tranquilizers, sedatives, amphetamines, and other stimulants. (TEDS 2004)
  19. Abusing prescription drugs for the first time before age 16 leads to a greater risk of dependence later in life. (SAMHSA 2006)
  20. Prescription drug addiction dramatically increased during the past decade. In the last 10 years, the number of teens entering treatment for addiction to prescription pain relievers has increased by more than 300 percent. (TEDS 2006)