By: Shannon Persad
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Where Do People Get Their Painkiller Prescriptions to Misuse?: A Case Study
It’s no secret the opioid epidemic has grabbed the headlines, with over two decades of substance abuse now coming into the limelight. It began in the late 90s, with pharmaceutical companies suggesting their opioid medications are not addictive. Fast forward 20 years and billions of dollars in lawsuits, that was not the case at all.
Pharmaceutical and health manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser Group, Purdue Pharma, and more have faced lawsuits from states with accusations of fueling the opioid epidemic both statewide and nationwide.
However, “The CBHSQ Report” from 2017 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) was a case study that is still relevant today. With the on-going criticism of doctors overprescribing, to the malpractice of pharmaceutical companies, are they the only ones to blame for accelerating the opioid crisis?
Friends and Relatives Play a Key Role in Obtaining Prescriptions
The CBHSQ Report evaluated data from the NSDUH (National Survey of Drug Use and Health). The CBHSQ Report states, “According to combined 2013 and 2014 NSDUH data, an annual average of 10.7 million people aged 12 or older misused prescription pain relievers in the past year. This represents 4.1 percent of the population.” The following resulted were found (along with a piechart below):
- “The most common source was “from a friend or relative for free” (50.5 percent).”
- “About 1 in 5 people said that they obtained the prescription pain relievers they had most recently misused from one doctor (22.1 percent)”
- “An additional 3.1 percent said they obtained them from more than one doctor. Only 4.8 percent of people who misused prescription pain relievers in the past year indicated that they had bought the prescription pain relievers they had most recently misused from a drug dealer or other stranger.”
- “About 4.4 percent of people who misused prescription pain relievers in the past year said they took the pain relievers from a friend or relative without asking.”
- “About 4.1 percent of people who misused prescription pain relievers indicated that they obtained their most recently misused pain relievers from other sources.7 For example, one other source was the Internet”.
- “Only 0.1 percent of people aged 12 or older used the Internet to obtain prescription pain relievers (data not shown).”
Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUHs), 2013 and 2014. “Source of prescription pain relievers for the most recent nonmedical use among past year users aged 12 or older: annual averages, 2013 and 2014.”
Despite the war on drugs, there is also a war on ourselves to not feed into other people’s addictions.
If you or someone you know needs help with a substance abuse addiction or misuse of prescription pain killers, seek professional help.