Of the illicit drug users in 2010 age 12 and older, 17.4 million reported being ‘current’ (past month) users of marijuana. Another 9 million (39.9 percent) reported current use of a drug other than marijuana. Of that second group, 7 million were nonmedical users of prescription drugs.
· When expanding the timeframe to include the previous 12 months, more than 12 million people reported nonmedical use of prescription painkillers in 2010.
· In looking at dependence on illicit drugs in 2010, marijuana had the highest levels of dependence (4.5 million) followed by pain relievers (1.9 million) and cocaine abuse (1 million). While marijuana saw an overall increase in usage, the number of people dependent on the drug has remained steady between 2002 and 2010. During that same time period, cocaine dependence actually declined. Only the dependence on prescription pain relievers saw an increase (from 1.4 million to 1.9 million).
· Since 2003, more overdose deaths have involved opioid analgesics than heroin and cocaine combined.
· In 2010, an estimated 3 million persons age 12 or older used an illicit drug for the first time within the past 12 months. Nonmedical use of prescription drugs accounted for 26.2 percent of these first time initiates.
· Nearly half a million emergency department visits in 2009 were due to people misusing or abusing prescription painkillers.
· Only 10 percent of patients are found to ‘doctor shop’ for opioids, but this group accounts for 40 percent of overdoses.
· Among the remaining 60 percent of overdoses, another 40 percent comes from 10 percent of patients prescribed a high dose (≥100 mg morphine equivalent dose per day) of opioids from a single prescriber, with the remaining 20 percent of overdoses coming from among the 80 percent of patients prescribed Nonmedical use of prescription painkillers costs insurers up to $72.5 billion annually in direct health care costs.