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Survey: Prescription Painkiller Abuse Often Starts With Free Pills From Friends, Family


A new national survey finds people who abuse prescription painkillers for the first time often get their pills for free from family or friends. Those who chronically abuse prescription painkillers are more likely to obtain the pills from doctors or dealers, USA Today reports.

An analysis of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, scheduled to be released on Wednesday, found more than two-thirds of those who said they had gotten high on painkillers for the first time in the past year received the pills from family or friends.

The survey estimates 2.4 million Americans start abusing prescription drugs annually. About one-third of new users are adolescents, according to the newspaper. Almost 6 percent of young adults ages 18 to 25, and 3 percent of teenagers, say they regularly get high on prescription drugs.

Two-thirds of people who used painkillers to get high less than once a week got pills for free, or stole them from a relative or friend, the survey found. Among regular users, 28 percent said they bought the pills from a relative, friend, drug dealer or online. Twenty-six percent had prescriptions from at least one doctor.

Saturday, April 28 is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, the article notes. The event, sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration, provides an opportunity for people who have accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs to safely dispose of them.

2 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of michelle s
    michelle s / May 1, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    This is very sad but true. I was addicted to prescription drugs for over 12 years. It wasn’t until my family had stepped in and made me see what road I was traveling down- I got the help I needed. I am now 5 years clean and volunteer at a treatment center a few days a week trying to help others who are where I once was. Anyone can turn their lives around, it is never too late.

  2. katie / April 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Prescription drug abuse often starts when prescriptions are written. How many docs think it is OK to prescribe benzos and sleep aids to recovering or active alcoholics and drug abusers?

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