Prevalence Of Illegal Use of Prescription Drugs In The US

"The 2019 NSDUH assessed the use and misuse of psychotherapeutic drugs currently or recently available by prescription in the United States, including prescription stimulants, tranquilizers or sedatives (e.g., benzodiazepines), and pain relievers. In NSDUH, misuse of prescription drugs was defined as use in any way not directed by a doctor, including use without a prescription of one’s own; use in greater amounts, more often, or longer than told to take a drug; or use in any other way not directed by a doctor. Misuse of over-the-counter drugs was not included.

"Among people aged 12 or older, the percentage who misused prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past year declined from 7.1 percent (or 18.9 million people) in 2015 to 5.9 percent (or 16.3 million people) in 2019 (2019 DT 7.2). These estimates in 2019 were lower than those in 2015 to 2017, but they were similar to those in 2018.

"Of the prescription drugs presented in this report, prescription pain relievers were the most commonly misused by people aged 12 or older. The 16.3 million people in 2019 who misused prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past year included 9.7 million people who misused prescription pain relievers, 4.9 million people who misused prescription stimulants, and 5.9 million people who misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives (including 4.8 million past year misusers of benzodiazepines) (Figure 10)."

Source: 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP20-07-01-001, NSDUH Series H-55). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.