Americans on Drugs


Americans on drugs


The latest stats estimate about 131 million of us drink alcohol. Nearly a quarter of the population age 12 and older participate in binge drinking – have five or more drinks in the same occasion at least once in the past month.

Twenty-three million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Seventeen percent of American high school students are drinking, smoking or using drugs during the school day.

We hear a lot about guns causing mass killings but we don’t hear much about the fact that every mass killer abused drugs except for possibly Adam Lanza. We don’t know much about Lanza’s drug situation other than he might have been on some kind of medication, possibly an anti-psychotic.

About 290 people die from FDA-approved prescription drugs every day [American Medical Association]. Some researchers say that nearly half of those on psychotropic drugs are getting relief from a placebo effect as opposed to benefitting from the drug itself.

Between 2000 and 2010, scrips for Oxycodene-based products, “hillybilly heroine,” has increased sixteen-fold and is taking over Middle America. Medication overdoses are now the top cause of accidental death in this country. Scrips for anti-anxiety drugs has increased by 17% since 2006.

Twenty-five percent of women are on psychiatric medication. TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT!

Marijuana is the most commonly used drug with more than 17 million users in 2010. It is a gateway drug.

Young people using drugs has increased in the last decade. In 2010, 21.5% of youths used drugs, largely due to marijuana use. States allowing medical marijuana might be fueling the increases in drug use. Emerging research is now revealing links between liberal state laws on marijuana and higher rates of marijuana use. Young people need to be protected but we are not doing that.

Marijuana is the most common drug for first-time users according to one study. Sixty-two percent said they first used marijuana.

Health insurance reimbursements are higher and easier to obtain for drug treatment than therapy, which has contributed to the increase in psychotropic drug sales and a shifting of psychiatry toward psychopharmacology, says Daniel Carlat, MD, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts University and author of the 2010 book “Unhinged: The Trouble with Psychiatry.”

“There is a huge financial incentive for psychiatrists to prescribe instead of doing psychotherapy,” he says. “You can make two, three, four times as much money being a prescriber than a therapist. The vicious cycle here is that as psychiatrists limit their practices primarily to prescribing, they lose their therapy skills by attrition and do even less therapy.”

According to a Forbes national survey:

  • 34% of American adults take at least one prescription drug
  • 11.5% of American adults take three or more prescription drugs.
  • 6.5% of American adults take 4 or more prescription drugs.

People on the highest and lowest levels of income are more likely to take prescription drugs with the lowest income Americans on four or more drugs.

The elderly are 12.9% of the population but they take 25% to 30% of prescribed medications and 40% of OTC  (over-the-counter) drugs.

Sixteen percent of hospital admissions and 100,000 deaths a year are due to adverse reactions from combined OTC’s and prescribed medicines.

Federal healthcare will increase federal spending on drugs. Drugs will be a cheaper way to go than surgeries or other treatments. It won’t be good.