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Facts and Statistics About Prescription Drug Use, Abuse and Addiction

Although addiction is best looked at as a very personal problem that causes suffering to the addict himself or herself as well as to those who care about them, it’s enlightening to look at some of the factors in society that lead up to this.  What are some of the things that are making us more susceptible to taking and becoming addicted to prescription medications?

For instance, did you know that, according to Nielsen TV, drug companies spent $2.4 billion in 2011 advertising pharmaceuticals on television?  That’s just television.  There are also all those ads on the Internet, in magazines and on the radio.  The public, as least in the United States where direct to the consumer drugs advertising is legal, is constantly being hit by warnings about a wide variety of problems they never suspected they had.  These commercials are very, very sophisticated and frequently end with the well-worn phrase, “Ask you doctor about….”.

Now, doctors are also being barraged with more scientific-sounding advertising for the same drugs.  Medical journals contain articles about the benefits of the newer, more expensive drugs, large advertisements frequently appear in those same publications.  Drug company sales people, called drug reps bearing gifts and free samples visit medical offices, trying to capture a moment of the doctor’s time in order to extol the virtues of their company’s latest pill.

All this advertising leads to lots and lots of prescribing and when this prescribing is being done for drugs, many of which are highly addictive we run the risk of creating the perfect environment for creating an epidemic of prescription drug addiction.

Most Prescribed Classes of Medications in 2011 from IMS Health

Most Prescribed Medications in 2011
Included Four Classes of Addictive Drugs


Let’s look at some facts and statistics:

Prescribing and Addiction

U.S. Government Statistics

The International Drug Abuse Scene

About Addiction

About Withdrawal