SAMHSA Opioid Abuse Statistics: 11.5 Million Adults Misused Painkillers In Past Year

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SAMHSA Opioid Abuse Statistics: 11.5 Million Adults Misused Painkillers In Past Year

According to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than one-third (38%) of the U.S. adult population used prescription opioids in the past year. That’s roughly 92 million adults. Among those, 11.5 million reportedly misused them at once in the past year. Nearly two-thirds (63.4%) stated they misused the drugs to treat physical pain.

The good news is, the vast majority (87%) say they did not misuse them.

Also, around 5.7 million reported misusing prescription tranquilizers at least one in the past year. Nearly half (46.2) said they used them to relax or relieve tension and 21.2 stated they were to help with sleep.

Around 4.8 million admitted to misusing prescription stimulants at least once in the past year. Most popular reasons give were to be alert or stay awake (28.4%), to improve concentration (26.2%) and to help study (22.4%.)

Another 1.4 million reported misusing prescription sedatives at least once in the past year, and the most common reason given was to help with sleep (73.2%.)

The report, called the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, revealed that that only marijuana beats out prescription drugs as the nation’s most popular illicit substance:

“ As a result, understanding the prevalence of and reasons for prescription drug misuse has major public health implications. Policymakers can use this type of information to help inform their assessments of substance use prevention and treatment needs in their communities.”

Finally, the report concludes that most people who abuse prescription drug abuse are doing so for the reasons in which the drugs are typically prescribed. However, the authors also note that misuse of many of these prescription drugs have “documented risks” including addiction, overdose, and death.

In 2015, the last year data for which data is available, more than 17,500 Americans lost their lives to a prescription opioid overdose.

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

References Opioid Abuse Statistics

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