Prescription Drug Abuse News

News about prescription drug abuse. News sources about the abuse of prescription drugs is collected from public sources such as news articles, government reports, drug rehabilitation programs, and other public health programs.

See key security threats and facts at our main prescription drug abuse page.

Data and statistics from the United States Government estimated that there were 336,000 people in the United States over the age of 55 who were misusing or addicted to prescription pain relievers in 2012. Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showed that the figures for 2012 were 132,000 higher than 10 years previous.

Between 2007 and 2011, the number of seniors who were admitted to substance abuse treatment centers for a prescription pain medicine addiction increased by 46 percent, while the number of patients over the age of 65 who misused a prescription drug and had to be admitted to an emergency room increased by over 50 percent to 94,000 ER admissions during the time period.

Between 1999 and 2010, the overdose death rate of people over 55 increased by 3 times  to 9.4 deaths per 100,000.

Public health officials attribute the problem to an increase in prescription to older Americans for pain relief and anxiety. According to federal statistics,  about one in four adults over the age of 50 in the United States use psychoactive medications, most of which are opioids for pain relief or benzodiazepines for anxiety.

(See all prescription drug abuse statistics here.)

Source:  Peter Eisler, “Older Americans hooked on Rx: ‘I was a zombie’,” USA Today, May 21, 2014.

In the fiscal year 2013, the United States Federal Government spent $320 Million on drug addiction research, according to a report by the Cincinnati Enquirer. The amount of federal spending was down 20 percent when compared to the inflation adjusted amount of $402 Million in 2010.

When adjusted for inflation, the amount of federal spending for 2013 was the same as FY 2002.

According to the Association for Addiction Professionals, about 10 percent of people in the United States who are addicted to prescription drugs or are heroin addicts have received any sort of treatment.

Source:  Carrie Blackmore Smith and Terry DeMio, “No way out: Heroin addicts trapped in deadly maze,” Cincinnati Enquirer, May 19, 2014.

An investigation conducted by the Daily Star in London found that the anti-depression pill Valium was readily available for purchase on the black market.

One drug dealer in Liverpool was offering black market Valium for sale for $4.98 (£3) per pill. The dealer had a pack of 50 Valium tablets.

Another dealer based in Manchester was offering 10mg pills of Valium for $3.32 (£2) per pill.

(More prescription drug abuse statistics.)

Source:  Scott Hesketh, “Investigation: Drug dealers cash in on £3 a pill Valium black market,” Daily Star, April 6, 2014.


Through the use of our User Submitted Data Form, a reader of Havocscope submitted information about the illegal drug trade in Cambodia. According to the reader, the prices of drugs in Cambodia vary depending if the buyer is a local Cambodian or a tourist / foreigner. In addition, an expat who is closely connected to the drug trade will generally receive lower prices compared to a tourist or backpacker traveling through Cambodia.

The following prices for drugs were reported to Havocscope:

Methamphetamine:  The maximum retail price for a gram of methamphetamine in Cambodia is $100. As is common among black market sales, if the buyer does not have a scale, the dealer can short-change them and only provide .70 to .90 grams. In general, a customer can expect to pay between $80 to $90 per gram. Most buyers of meth in Cambodia pay $20 for a bag of meth. The buyers assume that .20 grams of meth is included in the bag, yet most dealers only offer .17 grams. Thus, a meth dealer is usually able to sell up to 6 bags of meth per gram, making up to $120 per gram in revenue.  (See more facts about meth.)

For meth dealers, an ounce of methamphetamine in Cambodia would cost them about $1,500 (for roughly 30 grams). The price to purchase a kilogram of meth is between $25,000 to $30,000. The sources for the kilo of meth include various producers, such as local meth producers, to Nigerian smugglers and the Vietnamese Mafia.

Yaba tablets are offered for $2.50 to $5 to a yaba delaer, with the price rising to $5 to $15 for a tourist or foreigner.

Heroin: According to the data submitted, the $5 rate of heroin as reported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is incorrect. In the streets of Cambodia, a gram of “China White” heroin sells for around $40 to $70 per gram, depending on the amount bought. Most heroin users in Cambodia pay $20 for a bag of heroin (same method as meth), thus allowing the heroin dealer to make up to $120 to $140 per gram.  (See all heroin prices worldwide.)

Ecstasy: An ecstasy tablet with roughly .10 grams of MDMA sells for $15 in Cambodia. Dealers are able to purchase ecstasy tablets for about $8. For a gram of MDMA, the cost in Cambodia is $100 retail, with $79 to $80 being paid by dealers. (See all ecstasy prices worldwide.)

Cocaine: Most of the cocaine for sale in Cambodia is “garbage,” according to the data. Many dealers attempt to pass of heroin as cocaine. If a dealer was able to find a legitimate source, then a gram of cocaine in Cambodia would cost about $75, with users paying between $100 to $200 per gram for cocaine.  (See world cocaine prices.)

LSD: $20 to $25 per hit.

Ketamine: It is legal for local Cambodians to buy ketamine at the pharmacy. However, the sale of the drug is banned to foreigners. Thus, vials from the pharmacy cost between $12 to $15 for a half gram. These vials are then sold to foreigners for $18 to $25.

Other Prescription Drugs: The pharmacies in Cambodia are barely monitored, thus many prescription pills in the West are available for over-the-counter purchases in Cambodia. For example, 30 pills of Valium (30 mg per pill) is available for $1, and codeine is widely available. However, stimulants such as Adderall are not imported and not available in Cambodia.

Source: User Submitted Data to Havocscope, received on March 13, 2014.

According to a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, most people in the United States who are addicted to prescription drugs receive the drugs from doctors or friends and relatives for free and not from drug dealers.

Over 25 percent of people who abused painkillers daily said that they had received the pills from one or more physicians, a practice commonly called “doctor shopping.” Roughly the same amount of people reported that they received painkillers from their friends and family, and got the drugs for free.

15 percent of frequent prescription drug abusers stated that they bought the pills on the black market.

(Price of drugs and other items on the black market.)

Around 12 million people in the United States used a prescription opioid painkiller such as OxyContin or Vicodin each year.

Source: Lindsey Tanner, “Friends common source of abused prescription meds,” Associated Press, March 3, 2014.

According to data released by criminal justice programs, India is a main supplier of illegal narcotics to countries in South Asia.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) reported that drugs and ingredients from India’s pharmaceutical industry is diverted to the black market. The illicit pharmaceutical pills are either trafficked domestically or smuggled on to the global black market.

In addition to prescription drugs, India provides most of the heroin that is consumed in Bangladesh. Most of the cannabis that is consumed in Bangladesh and Nepal is also produced in India and smuggled across the border.

Most of the ephedrine and pseudoephedrine uses to make meth in Myanmar is believed to have originated from India as well.

The rate of opium seizures in India has grown in the last three years. In 2009, government security agencies seized about 1.7 tonnes of opium in India. In 2012, over 3 tonnes of opium was seized.

14 kilograms of cocaine was seized in India in 2011. In 2012, the amount of cocaine seized tripled to 42 kilograms.

(All prescription drug abuse statistics.)

Source:  “Prescription drug abuse growing in India: UN report,” Indian Express, March 5, 2014.

Based on media reports from 2014, the latest available figures on the number of overdose deaths in the United States from heroin and prescription drugs abuse is as follows:

In 2010, there were 13,652 deaths from overdosing on prescription drugs in the United States. The number of deaths from overdosing on prescription drugs was more than triple the deaths reported in 1999.

For heroin, there were 2,789 deaths caused by overdosing on heroin in 2010.

(Cost of heroin around the world.)

Source:  Andrew Blankstein, “Heroin Overdose ‘Cure’ Exists, But Can Users Find It?,” NBC News, February 19, 2014.

According to the World Anti-Doping Agency, around 25 percent of all legitimate pharmaceutical drugs made in the world is available to buy on the black market.

The director general of WADA stated the scale of the available of drugs after a scientist with the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow was caught selling a drug that was still in the testing phase on the black market. WADA stated that many drugs that are still in the Research and Development phase of the drug was already available on the black market.

(Additional statistics about illegal pharmaceutical drugs.)

Source:  Owen Gibson, “Wada warns that around 25% of world’s drugs are sold on the black market,” Guardian, February 5, 2014.

According to various media reports, women who are pregnant in the United Kingdom are buying abortion pills at online websites that sell the pill on the black market.

The women are paying $128 (£78) for an abortion pill that they buy from websites. The abortion pills are sold by East Asian organized crime gangs selling the pills online.

In 2013, authorities shut down over 1,200 websites that were illegally selling medicines and pills to customers in the United Kingdom.

Health agencies have stated that buying abortion pills online can have a negative impact on a woman’s health, and may even cause death if the dosage are wrong. Women in the UK can visit abortion clinics and other public health programs for confidential appointments.

The sale of abortion pill is not just concentrated in the UK. Women in the United States also buy pills to induce abortions from black market sources as well. Women in Texas have been reported buying an abortion pill for $40 on the Mexican border.

(Additional statistics about prescription drug abuse.)

Source:  Lizzie Dearden, “Pregnant teenage girls taking deadly black market abortion pills, investigation finds,” Independent, January 25, 2014.

A survey of 2,400 drug injecting users in Australia found that the taking of performance enhancing drugs increased sharply amongst young men in the country.

74 percent of people in New South Wales who started injecting drugs into their bodies injected performance and image enhancing drugs (PIEDs) in 2013.  In 2003, the number who started with PIEDs was 27 percent. Most of the PIEDs injected were steroids and are driven by young men.

While steroids use has increased, the rate of new meth injectors has declined. Back in 2006, up to 50 percent of new meth users by males injected the drug. In 2013, the rate of new injection rates for meth for men decreased to 11 percent.

(How much does a gram of meth cost?)

Source:  “Steroids now the drug of choice for young men”, 9 News, January 10, 2014.

(Prescription drug abuse statistics and information.)