Prescription Drug Abuse Stats and Facts

Nearly 1 in 12 high school seniors reported nonmedical use of Vicodin; 1 in 20 reported abuse of OxyContin. When asked how prescription narcotics were obtained for nonmedical use, 70% of 12th graders said they were given to them by a friend or relative (MTF 2011). The number obtaining them over the internet was negligible. Among those who abuse prescription drugs, high rates of other risky behaviors, including abuse of other drugs and alcohol, have also been reported.

Prescription drug abuse is the nation's fastest-growing drug problem. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that nearly one-third of people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug that wasn't prescribed to them.

Approximately 7.0 million persons were current users of psychotherapeutic drugs taken non clinically (2.7 percent of the U.S. population). This class of drugs is broadly described as those targeting the central nervous system, including drugs used to treat psychiatric disorders (NSDUH, 2010). The medications most commonly abused are:

• Pain relievers - 5.1 million
• • Tranquilizers - 2.2 million
Stimulants - 1.1 million
• Sedatives - 0.4 million

Among adolescents, prescription and over-the-counter medications account for most of the commonly abused illicit drugs by high school seniors.

prescription drug abuse is the number 1 addiciton problem in the US

Malibu Horizon - Prescription Drug Abuse Addiction Rehab Center

prescription drug abuse rehab teratment centerPrescription drug abuse and addiction is a huge problem in the United States and around the world. Medications can be effective when they are used properly, but some can be addictive and dangerous when abused. Prescription drug abuse and addiction is often very subtle. When someone is in pain, for example, they need to take medication to relieve their discomfort. The problem often arises when they person becomes dependent on them. What often happens is they try to stop "cold-turkey", and end up using the drug to relieve the withdrawal symptoms.

Prescription drug abuse is the intentional use of a medication without a prescription; in a way other than as prescribed; or for the experience or feeling it causes. It is not a new problem, but one that deserves renewed attention. For although prescription drugs can be powerful allies, they also pose serious health risks related to their abuse.


- Approximately 16 million Americans reported using a prescription drug for nonmedical reasons in the past year

- 7 million reported abusing prescription medications in the previous month

Prescription Drug Abuse Addiction Treatment Center - Malibu Horizon

prescription drug addictionThe nonmedical use or abuse of prescription drugs is a serious and growing public health problem in this country.

Malibu Horizon is a leader in the treatment of prescription drug abuse and addiction. We provide both on-site detox and stabilization as well as an intensive residential treatment program. Our rehab program focuses on the underlying causes of the drug abuse and dependency. Often a person dependent on prescription medication has an untreated psychiatric issue they are self-medicating with illegal prescription medication.

The Right Treatment for Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction

Available options for effectively treating addiction to prescription drugs depend on the medication being abused. Approaches to treating pain reliever addiction are drawn from research on treating opiate addiction, and include medications combined with behavioral counseling.

Years of research have shown that addiction to any drug (illicit or prescribed) is a brain disease that can be treated effectively. Treatment must take into account the type of drug used and the needs of the individual. Successful treatment may need to incorporate several components, including detoxification, counseling, and sometimes the use of addiction medications. Multiple courses of treatment may be needed for the patient to make a full recovery.

The two main categories of drug addiction treatment are behavioral and pharmacological. Behavioral treatments help patients stop drug use by teaching them strategies to function without drugs, deal with cravings, avoid drugs and situations that could lead to drug use, and handle a relapse should it occur. When delivered effectively, behavioral treatments, such as individual counseling, group or family counseling, contingency management, and cognitive behavioral therapies, also can help patients improve their personal relationships and their ability to function at work and in the community. Although a behavioral or pharmacological approach alone may be sufficient for treating some patients, research shows that a combined approach may be best. Some addictions, such as opioid addiction, can be treated with medications. These pharmacological treatments counter the effects of the drug on the brain and behavior, and can be used to relieve withdrawal symptoms, help overcome drug cravings, or treat an overdose. Although a behavioral or pharmacological approach alone may be sufficient for treating some patients, research shows that a combined approach may be best.

A recent large-scale clinical trial supported by NIDA showed that Suboxone (Buprenorphine + naloxone), prescribed in primary care settings, helped about half of participants reduce their pain reliever abuse during extended Suboxone treatment. Another promising approach includes long acting formulations of medications, such as Vivitrol, a depot formulation of the opioid receptor blocker naltrexone, recently approved by the FDA to treat opioid addiction. With effects that last for weeks instead of hours or days, long-acting formulations stand to aid in treatment retention and abstinence.

Although no medications yet exist to treat addiction to CNS depressants or to prescription stimulants, behavioral therapies proven effective in treating other drug addictions may be used. NIDA is also supporting multiple studies to identify promising medications for stimulant addiction.

List of Most Commonly Abused Prescription Pain Relievers

The most commonly abused prescription medications are pain relievers also known as opioids, including:

• Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
• Oxycodone (OxyContin®)
• Oxymorphone (Opana®)
• Propoxyphene (Darvon®)
• Hydromorphone (Dilaudid®)
• Meperidine (Demerol®)
• Diphenoxylate (Lomotil®)

Opioids are commonly prescribed to relieve pain. They are often prescribed by doctors to help patients with severe acute or chronic pain. Studies have shown that if taken exactly as prescribed by a medical professional, opioids are safe, can manage pain effectively, and rarely cause addiction. The problem occurs when they are abused. In fact, painkillers are one of the most commonly abused drugs after tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana.

Central Nervous System Depressants

The next most commonly abused prescription medications are classified as central nervous system depressants. CNS depressants, sometimes referred to as sedatives and tranquilizers, are substances that can slow brain activity. This property makes them useful for treating anxiety and sleep disorders. Among the medications commonly prescribed for these purposes are the following: Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax), are sometimes prescribed to treat anxiety, acute stress reactions, and panic attacks. The more sedating benzodiazepines, such as triazolam (Halcion) and estazolam (ProSom) are prescribed for short-term treatment of sleep disorders. Usually, benzodiazepines are not prescribed for longterm use because of the risk for developing tolerance, dependence, or addiction.

Sleep medications, such as zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zalepon (Sonata), have a different chemical structure, but act on some of the same brain receptors as benzodiazepines. They are thought to have fewer side effects and less risk of dependence than benzodiazepines.

Barbiturates, such as mephobarbital (Mebaral), phenobarbital (Luminal Sodium), and pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal), are used less frequently to reduce anxiety or to help with sleep problems because of their higher risk of overdose compared to benzodiazepines. However, they are still used in surgical procedures and for seizure disorders.


The other classification of abused prescription drugs are known as stimulants. Stimulants are a class of drugs that elevate mood, increase feelings of well-being, and increase energy and alertness. Examples include cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamines, methylphenidate, nicotine, and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), better known as “Ecstasy.”

Cocaine comes in two forms. Powder cocaine is a hydrochloride salt, made from the leaf of the coca plant. “Crack” is a smokeable form of cocaine that is processed with ammonia or baking soda and water, and heated to remove the hydrochloride.

Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant, originally derived from amphetamine. It comes in clear crystals or powder and easily dissolves in water or alcohol. Although most of the methamphetamine used in the United States comes from “superlabs,” it is also made in small laboratories using inexpensive over-the-counter and often toxic ingredients (such as drain cleaner, battery acid, and antifreeze).

Amphetamines, such as Adderall, are stimulants that often come in pill form and are sometimes prescribed by doctors for medical problems, most commonly attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Amphetamines can also be abused—that is, used in a way or for a purpose other than as prescribed (e.g., crushed and snorted, "to get high") or used by someone without a prescription.

Methylphenidate, such as Concerta or Ritalin, is another medication prescribed for people with ADHD. As seen with amphetamines, including Adderall, numerous studies have shown its effectiveness when used as prescribed. When it is abused, however, methylphenidate can lead to many of the same problems seen with other stimulants.

Prescription Drug Abuse Among the Elderly

The elderly are among those most vulnerable to prescription drug abuse or misuse because they are prescribed more medications than their younger counterparts. Most people take prescription medications responsibly; however, an estimated 48 million people (ages 12 and older) have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons in their lifetimes. This represents approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population.

While we do not yet understand all of the reasons for the increasing abuse of prescription drugs, we do know that accessibility is likely a contributing factor. In addition to the increasing number of medicines being prescribed for a variety of health problems, some medications can be obtained easily from online pharmacies. Most of these are legitimate businesses that provide an important service; however, some online pharmacies dispense medications without a prescription and without appropriate identity verification, allowing minors to order the medications easily over the Internet.

please note: All medical services are rendered by outside service providers.

malibu horizon rehb center

Contact Us
818 677 9511
Outside U.S.