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While most people use prescription drugs responsibly, there are about 52 million people over age 12 in the U.S. who use them for nonmedical reasons. The abuse of prescription drugs can lead to numerous health risks and addiction.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and several national surveys, prescription medications (such as those used to treat pain, attention deficit disorders, and anxiety) are “being abused at a rate second only to marijuana among illicit drug users.” It’s common that people perceive the nonmedical use of prescription drugs as less harmful than illicit drugs because they’re so widely prescribed by physicians and easy to acquire; this dangerous perception is a likely reason why prescription drug abuse is so common.

So, where are prescription drugs obtained? NIDA reports:

  • 3% bought on the internet
  • 1% got prescription(s) from just one doctor
  • 9% got prescription(s) from more than one doctor
  • 9% got them from a drug dealer or stranger
  • 6% bought or took them from a friend or relative
  • 2% got them FREE from a friend or relative
  • 2% got them some other way

This graphic shows a variety of prescription medications – pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives – that are widely abused in the U.S.

pain relievers
* This information is provided to court personnel and college and high school administrators. 3rd Millennium Classrooms does not include this specific drug information in our courses or to individuals who enroll in our courses.


3rd Millennium Classrooms strives to foster awareness of the consequences of prescription drug abuse in the online course Other Drugs. An intervention program for individuals charged with an alcohol or drug violation, Other Drugs focuses on prescription drug misuse, opiates, stimulants, sedatives, and ecstasy.

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In recent years, vaping has become a public health epidemic. Since 2014, e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among youth. In 2020, about 1 in 5 high school students in the United States reported using e-cigarettes in the past month. 3.6 million young people are currently using e-cigarettes — exceeding traditional cigarettes. 

September 28, 2020