Prescription drug abuse in the United States is a huge problem. Some experts are even calling it an epidemic. One in 25 adults and teenagers in the US has used a prescription drug in a way other than prescribed. The number of prescription drug addicted babies has tripled in the last 10 years, mimicking the “crack baby” epidemic of the 1980’s. So what are the top 3 abused prescription drugs in the US today?
Two recently published studies, based on nationwide data from office visits for children and adults, have decisively documented the expensive and dangerous massive overprescribing of antibiotics for conditions that, because of their viral origin, do not respond to these drugs. Forty-four percent of children under 18 years old were given antibiotics for treatment of a cold and 75% for treatment of bronchitis. Similarly, 51% of people 18 or older were treated with antibiotics for colds and 66% for bronchitis. Despite the lack of evidence of any benefit for most people from these treatments, more than 23 million prescriptions a year were written for colds, bronchitis, and upper respiratory infections. This accounted for approximately one-fifth of all prescriptions for antibiotics written for children or adults., An accompanying editorial warned of “increased costs from unnecessary prescriptions, adverse drug reactions, and [subsequent] treatment failures in patients with antibiotic-resistant infections” as the reasons to try to reduce this epidemic of unnecessary antibiotic prescribing.