Rural areas, especially in the South, have some of the highest rates of addiction to painkillers and drug overdoses, says a 2014 report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, rural youth are 35 percent more likely than their urban counterparts to have abused prescription painkillers in the past year, said a September report by Penn State University.
Kaiser found that 45 percent of respondents said "they personally know someone who has taken a prescription painkiller that was not prescribed to them, including 6 percent who say they personally have done this and an additional 27 percent who say that a close friend or family member has." Also, 39 percent said "they know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers, including 2 percent who say they personally have been and an additional 25 percent who say a close friend or family member has been addicted. About 16 percent say they know someone who has died from a prescription painkiller overdose, including 9 percent who say that person was a family member or close friend."
Respondents said attaining prescription drugs without a prescription is easier than getting a prescription, states the report. Overall, 77 percent said it's easier to access painkillers not prescribed to them, compared to only 58 percent of people who said they medically need drugs who were able to get a prescription.
"Large majorities say a number of efforts would be effective in reducing painkiller abuse, including treatment programs (85 percent), monitoring doctors’ prescribing habits (82 percent), public education programs (80 percent), training doctors (79 percent), and encouraging people to appropriately dispose of leftover medication (69 percent)," states the report. (Kaiser graphic)