Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment for Prescription Painkillers Increases 400%

An increase in the misuse of prescription painkillers has led to a dramatic increase in the number of admissions for substance abuse treatment due to abuse of the drugs.

The proportion of all substance abuse treatment admissions involving abuse of prescription painkillers increased by more than 400 percent between 1998 and 2008, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Addiction Numbers are Way Up

Admissions to a substance abuse treatment facility increased from 2.2 percent in 1998 to 9.8 percent in 2008, according to SAMHSA. Increases in admissions associated with abuse of painkillers were found among all segments of the population, regardless of gender, age, race, educational level and employment status. The study determined the following about admissions due to prescription painkiller abuse:

  • Men: The proportion of admissions to treatment due to prescription misuse increased from 1.8 percent in 1998 to 8.1 percent in 2008.
  • Women: The proportion of admissions to treatment due to prescription misuse increased from 3.5 percent in 1998 to 13.3 percent in 2008.
  • Educational level: Among people with an education level of eighth grade or less, the proportion of admissions increased from 1.9 percent in 1998 to 9.7 percent in 2008. Among people with at least a high school education, that number jumped from 3.8 percent to 12.1 percent during that same time period.

These increases echo the problems with prescription painkillers in another SAMHSA study released earlier this year. That study found that visits to emergency rooms involving the non-medical use of prescription painkillers more than doubled between 2004 and 2008.

“The non-medical use of prescription pain relievers is now the second most prevalent form of illicit drug use in the nation, and its tragic consequences are seen in substance abuse treatment centers and hospital emergency departments throughout our nation,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “This public health threat demands that we follow the President’s National Drug Control Strategy’s call for an all-out effort to raise awareness of this risk and the critical importance of properly using, storing, and disposing of these powerful drugs.”

Proper use of prescription painkillers requires people who have been prescribed the drugs to consult with their physicians and to take the medication only as prescribed. Not doing so, or allowing other people to use drugs that you have been prescribed, can result in misuse of the medication and a possible addiction to prescription painkillers that can have devastating results.

If you have developed an addiction to prescription pain medication, seek professional treatment for prescription drug abuse before it takes over your life.