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.

According to a federal agents, a prison gang was operating a racket within the Baltimore City Detention Center in the state of Maryland. Documents filed in federal court by the FBI stated that one gram bags of marijuana were being sold in the jail for $50. Pain killers were being sold for $30 a pill to inmates.

(Police corruption and the effects on governments.)

In addition to the contraband drugs, female corrections officers were having sex with the inmates. According to the FBI, four correction officers became pregnant from one inmate.

In an article in the Washington Post, the article says that the names of 14 female guards were written on a wall and that each woman was charging $150 to have sex with an inmate.

(See additional illegal prostitution prices.)

Source:  Theresa Vargas, Ann E. Marimow and Annys Shin, “Baltimore jail case depicts a corrupt culture driven by drugs, money and sex,” Washington Post, May 4, 2013.

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The National Football League (NFL) stated that 7 percent of its players have abused prescription painkillers  according to a report by the Washington Post. The rate of abuse was three times higher than the general population.

In a 2010 study conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine, former NFL players were found to have been abusing pain pills at a rate of more than 4 times members of the general population  52 percent of former players also reported to using opioids during their playing career, with 71 percent reporting that they misused the drugs.

The Washington Post conducted a survey of over 500 former players and found that one in four reported that they took prescription medication that they were not comfortable taking after feeling pressure from team doctors.

(More prescription drug abuse statistics.)

Source:  Sally Jenkins and Rick Maese, “Pain and pain management in NFL spawn a culture of prescription drug use and abuse,” Washington Post, April 13, 2013.

In 1999, there were 4,030 deaths of painkiller overdose reported in the United States.

In 2010, the number of reported overdoses by painkillers  quadrupled to 16,651.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a span of 10 years there were 125,000 deaths that were caused by legal prescription drugs such as Vicodin, Oxycontin and methadone.

(More statistics and information about prescription drug abuse.)

Source:  Jason Kane, “Prescription Drug Abuse: Top 10 Things CDC Says You Should Know,” PBS Newshour, April 30, 2013.


In a survey of 12th graders in the United States, 5.5 percent of the respondents stated that they have gotten high off cough syrup.

Sizzurp is the term used when mixing prescription strength cough syrup with flavored beverages of candy such as Jolly Ranchers.

(Latest prescription drug abuse statistics.)

Source:  Melissa Leon, “Lil Wayne Hospitalization: What the Hell Is Sizzurp?,” Daily Beast, March 17, 2013.

There were 705 opioid deaths in Australia in 2010, nearly doubled the 360 deaths in 2007.

In 2008, there were 500 people in Australia between the ages of 15 to 54 who died from accidentally overdosing of prescription painkillers.

Source:  Mellissa Davey, “Death toll rises as prescription drug abuse grows,” Age, March 17, 2013.

Between 2000 and 2009, there were a reported 8,625 drug-related deaths in Los Angeles County in the US state of California. Out of these deaths, 61 percent were due to prescription drugs overdose or over-the-counter medications.

According to a report by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Heath, 11 percent of the county’s 9th graders and 14 percent of the 11th graders admitted to misusing prescription drugs within the past year.

(See all prescription drugs statistics.)

Between 2005 and 2010, there were over 6,500 admissions into publicly funded substance abuse centers where prescription drugs were reported as the main issue. Over 70 percent of these cases were for treatment for opioid pain relievers.

(All United States Crime Statistics.)

Source:  “Prescription Drug Abuse in Los Angeles County: Background and Recommendations for Action,” Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Substance Abuse Prevention and Control, January 2013.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, heroin was the most abused drug in Taiwan in 2012. Between January and October, 66.8 percent of substance abuse cases handled by the criminal justice system involved heroin. It was the sixth straight year that heroin was the most abused drug in Taiwan.

After heroin, amphetamine accounted for 33.1 percent of substance abuse cases in Taiwan, followed by the abuse of the veterinary medicine ketamine, which accounted for 5 percent of cases.

Insomnia drug Zolpidem was the fourth abused drug in Taiwan with 4.3 percent of cases involving the prescription drug. Ecstasy rounded out the top five with 3.4 percent of cases.

(All prescription drug abuse statistics.)

Source:  “FDA announces top five drugs abused in Taiwan this year,” Taipei Times, December 16, 2012.

New York City’s Department of Health reported 6,555 emergency room visits by patients overdosing on prescription drugs in 2010. The number of emergency room visits due to overdosing on prescription drugs increased by 111 percent between 2004 and 2010.

In 2010, there were 226 reported deaths to prescription drugs overdoses in New York City, an 18 percent increase from five years ago.  The number of deaths in 2010 to prescription drugs overdose accounted for 44 percent of all drug overdose deaths in the city.

Source:  Reuven Fenton and Carl Campanile, “Prescription-drug overdoses and deaths skyrocket in NYC,” New York Post, September 28, 2012.

There were 22.5 million people in the United States over the age of 12 who used an illegal drug in 2011, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Nearly 9 percent of the American population regularly used illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin and prescription drugs.

There were 1.4 million users in the United States who used cocaine, down from the 2.6 million regular users in 2006. (Click to see global cocaine prices)

There were 281,000 users of heroin in the US in 2011, up from 161,000 users in 2007.(Click to see global heroin prices)

6.1 million people regularly abused narcotic pain pills, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives in 2011, down slightly from the 7 million in 2010.

Source:  Donna Leinwand Leger, “Prescription-drug abuse drops among young people,” USA Today, September 25, 2012.

11 percent of active-duty United States Soldiers were abusing prescription drugs in 2008, the latest year data was available.

The number of US soldiers abusing prescription drugs in 2008 was higher than the 2 percent of soldiers who misused prescription drugs in 2002.

Source:  James Dao, “Report Faults Military’s Strategies on Drug and Alcohol Abuse,” New York Times, At War Blog, September 17, 2012.

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