Bienville Community Coalition

The Scope of the Prescription Drug Misuse Epidemic

According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey of Drug Use and Health, between 6 and 7 million Americans, age 12 and older, have misued a prescription painkiller (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin) sedative (e.g., Valium, Xanax) or stimulant (e.g., Ritalin, Adderall) in the past month.  Approximately 5,500 people do so for the first time every day.

What Caused this Epidemic?

We belive there is a "perfect storm" for the misuse of medications that is fueled by:

  • The normalization of medication use in our society. There are more than 4 billion prescriptions filled every year in the United States, and nearly half of the U. S. population has taken at least one prescription ddrug in the past month.  The United States is onle of only two developed nations which permit direct-to-consumer advertisements for prescription drugs.  our society expects quick fixes and frequently turns to medications to solve our problems.
  • There is relatively easy access to medications.  For example, although the U. S. comprises less than 5% of the world's population, Americans consume 80% of the world's supply of painkillers.  Further, about two-thirds of those misusing these drugs report that they obtained the medications from family members or friends (most often for free).
  • Many of us have misperceptions of safety and legality when misusing prescription medications.  Some people incorrectly believe that prescription medications cannot cause addiction, that they are safer to misuse than illicit "street" drugs, and that it is legal to use medications that have not been prescribed for us.

Our key messages for using medicines safely are quite simple:

  • Always store your medications securely to prevent others from taking them, and properly dispose of medications that you no longer need.
  • Be a good example to those around you by modeling these safe medication-taking practices and discussing the dangers of misusing prescription drugs with your kids, family, friends, and colleagues.
  • Never share your prescription medications with others or use someone else's prescription medications.
  • Only use prescription medications as directed by a health professional.
  • Be a good example to those around you by modeling these safe medication-taking practices and discussing the dangers of misusing prescription drugs with your kids, family, friends, and colleagues.

More information about proper storage and disposal of prescription medications:

www.lockyourmeds.org

www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm272905.htm

 

 

 

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