Apr 242017

The National Institute on Drug Abuse “challenged the public to create Infographics that present current scientific information about prescription drug abuse in interesting, novel, and creative ways to help inform and educate the general public.” Below are six of the graphical presentations. All the sources for the data are at the bottom of the page.

Infographic 1:  52 Million people in the US, over the age of 12, have used prescription drugs non-medically in their lifetime.


Infographic 2:  6.1 Million people have used prescription drugs non-medically in the past month; and the United States has 5 percent of the world’s population but consumes 75 percent of the the world’s prescription drugs.

In 2011, 52 million people in the US age 12+ had used prescription drugs nonmedically at least once in their lifetime, 6.2 million in the past month. The United States has 5% of the world’s population & consumes 75% of the world’s prescription drugs.


Infographic 3:  In 2010, enough prescription painkillers were prescribed to medicate every american adult every 4 hours for 1 month. The number of prescription medicine abusers in 2010 was 8.76 million. Most abused prescription drugs fall under 3 categories: painkillers at 5.1 million, tranquilizers at 2.2 million, and stimulants at 1.1 million.

In 2011, 2.4 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 12, or 6.1 million persons “used prescription-type psychotherapeutic drugs nonmedically in the past month.”  The estimate in 2010 was 2.7 percent, or 7 million persons.  “Among youths aged 12 to 17, the rate of current nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs declined from 4.0 percent in 2002 to 2.8 percent in 2011. The rate of nonmedical pain reliever use declined during this period from 3.2 to 2.3 percent among youths.”


Infographic 4:  Non-medical use of prescription drugs by state


Infographic 5:  Where are prescription drugs obtained?

0.3%: Bought on the internet
1.9%: More than one doctor
2.2%: Other
3.9%: Drug dealer or stranger
16.6% Bought/took from friend or relative
18.1%: One doctor
54.2%: Free from friend or relative


Infographic 6:  Twelve reasons teens use prescription drugs:

62%: Easy to get from parent’s medicine cabinets
52%: Available everywhere
51%: They are not illegal drugs
50%: Easy to get through other people’s prescriptions
9%: Can claim to have prescription if caught (The infographic is incorrect)
43%: They are cheap
35%: Safer to use than illegal drugs
33%: Less shame attached to using
32%: Easy to purchase over the internet
32%: Fewer side effects than street drugs
25%: Can be used as study aids
21%: Parents don’t care as much if caught



“Combating Misuse and Abuse of Prescription Drugs: Q&A with Michael Klein, Ph.D.” Consumer Updates. United States Food and Drug Administration, 28 July 2010

“Prescription for Disaster. How Teens Abuse Medicine.” Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Department of Justice

Yachter, David (2009). Born a Champion: The Master Strategy for Maximum Health and Lasting Success. Outskirts Press

Kane, Jason. “Prescription Drug Abuse: Top 10 things CDC Says You Should Know.” PBS Newshour, 2013

“National Survey on Druge Use and Health.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011

“Topics in Brief: Prescription Drug Abuse.” National Institute on Drug Abuse

“State Estimates of Nonmedical Use of Prescription Pain Relievers.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 8 Jan. 2013

Maxwell, Jane Carlisle. “Trends in the Abuse of Prescription Drugs.” The Gulf Coast Addiction Technology Transfer Center. The University of Texas at Austin, Nov. 2006

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