1 in 6 American Adults Report Using Psychiatric Drugs

In This Article

1 in 6 American Adults Report Using Psychiatric Drugs

Using data gathered from a recent national survey, researchers found that 1 in 6 American adults take psychiatric drugs such as antidepressants or sedatives. In total, 5.3 million people admitted using psychiatric drugs, although that number may even be higher because self-reports aren’t always entirely truthful.

Data was pulled from the 2013 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, which collected information on the cost and use of health care in the United States. A research letter was published last month in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Other psychiatric drugs include anti-anxiety medications (anxiolytics) such as benzodiazpines, and anti-psychotics such as haloperidol and quetiapine. According the data, which was compiled by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, the highest rates were found among women, the elderly, and whites.

Women were almost twice as likely as men to be using psychiatric drugs (21% vs. 12%.)

Drug use was also found to be associated with increased age – 25% of persons age 60-85 reported using prescription drugs. Comparatively, only 9% of adults 18-39 reported using them.

White adults were much more likely to report psychiatric drug use (nearly 21%). By comparison, less than 10% of black adults reported use, about 9% of Hispanic adults, and just under 5% of Asian adults.

Additionally, 80% of adults who were taking psychiatric drugs reported long-term use, which was defined as at least three prescriptions filled in 2013 or having a prescription beginning prior to 2012. About 17% reported filling at least one prescription.

Antidepressants were the most commonly refilled, and 12% of adults reported using them long-term.fill Around 8% reported filling anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics, and less than 2% percent reported taking anti-psychotics.

According to the report, the two most commonly used drugs were antidepressants – sertraline (Zoloft) and citalopram (Celexa.)

The third most common drug was alprazolam (Xanax.) Other top drugs included the sleep aid Ambien and the antidepressants Prozac and Desyrel.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

Let's Connect

🔒 Your information is safe & secure
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Just Believe Recovery White Logo
Is Kratom Legal? | Just Believe Recovery
Abused Substances

Is Kratom Legal?

Is Kratom legal? It’s hard to say. While most medical professionals agree that it’s unsafe, the legality of Kratom is a bit more vague. While

Read More »