This 2004 Policy Brief draws attention to the 6.3 million Americans using prescription drugs non-medically. The brief notes that-- even in 2004--prescription drug abuse exceeded historical estimates of the numbers of cocaine and heroin users at the peak of each of their epidemics and yet attracted little media attention or public concern.
The brief highlights the growing number of treatment admissions for prescription drug abuse, noting that treatment admissions where painkillers were the primary drug of abuse increased 186 percent between 1997 and 2002.
The brief concludes that prevention, treatment, and law enforcement must all play a role in combating the "silent epidemic," outlining specific recommendations and highlighting the role of prescription drug monitoring programs (PMPs or PDMPs).
Original Publication: November 2004