Friends and Family Frequently Provide Pills to Prescription Drug Abusers

Daniel Weiss, Senior Editor
Published Online: Friday, April 27, 2012
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Prescription drug abusers get the majority of their drugs from friends and family, according to data presented by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The majority of first-time or casual abusers of prescription drugs get the drugs from friends or family members, according to data presented this week by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The data was drawn from the 2009 and 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which is carried out by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.
 
According to the data, 68% of those who began misusing pain relievers in the last year were given the pills by a friend or relative for free or took them without permission; 17% got the pills via prescription from 1 or more doctors; and 9% bought them from an acquaintance, a dealer, or over the Internet. Likewise, 66% of those who abused pain relievers less than once per week on average were given the pills by a friend or relative for free or took them without permission; 17% got them via a doctor’s prescription; and 13% bought them from an acquaintance, a dealer, or over the Internet. Finally, 41% of chronic abusers of pain relievers were given the pills by a friend or relative for free or took them without permission; 26% got them with a doctor’s prescription; and 28% bought them from an acquaintance, dealer, or over the Internet.
 
The ONDCP notes that the findings underscore the need to properly dispose of unused and unneeded prescription medications. To help Americans do so, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is holding its fourth National Take Back Day tomorrow, April 28, 2012, at more than 5000 locations around the country. At these locations, anyone can dispose of any prescription drug, with no questions asked. During the previous 3 Take Back events, almost a million pounds of prescription drugs have been disposed of. Those interested in participating can use the DEA’s online site locator to find a location near them. They can also read the FDA’s guidelines on disposal of unused medicines.

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