Wednesday, September 21, 2016

44.5% of Americans 12 and older took prescription painkillers in 2015; 15.9% of users misused them

Nearly half of all Americans 12 and older took prescription painkillers in 2015, says a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The results, from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (67,500 respondents), found that 119 million people—44.5 percent of the population—used prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past year. Of the 119 million, 7 million were 12 to 17 years old, 15.5 million were 18 to 25 and 96.6 million were 26 or older. Most people who took prescription painkillers—84.1 percent—did not misuse them. (SAMHSA graphic: Prescription painkiller use among Americans 12 and older in 2015)
About 97.5 million people used pain relievers (36.4 percent), 39.3 million used tranquilizers (14.7 percent), 17.2 million used stimulants (6.4 percent), and 18.6 million used sedatives (6.9 percent). When asked why they used prescription painkillers, 62.6 percent said to relieve physical pain. The most common response for using tranquilizers was to relax or relieve tension (44.9 percent of respondents) or to help with sleep (20.4 percent). When it came to stimulants, the most common responses were to help be alert or stay awake, help concentrate, or help study. Among sedative users, 71.7 percent said they were used to help with sleep.

Among people who misused pain relievers, the most common source of the last pain reliever they obtained was from a friend or relative (53.7 percent). About one third misused a prescription from a doctor and 1 in 20 people who misused pain relievers bought the last pain reliever they misused from a drug dealer or stranger.

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