Kurt is a
32-year-old IT systems administrator from Des Moines, Iowa. He has a colleague
who had been prescribed "ridiculous amounts" of Vicodin for a chronic
His colleague offered him some of the pills. Soon Kurt was taking them three to
four times a week to get high and relax."I had been prescribed Vicodin
before so I knew the effects," he said.
"I would come home, take a couple and pour myself a drink, to help me
unwind."He is not alone. One in 10 Americans admit taking a prescription
drug they have not been prescribed, and a quarter of those people have used
them just to get high, according to an ongoing Reuters/Ipsos poll.
While about six in ten Americans who used another person's prescriptions
did so for pain relief, a fifth took them to sleep or to manage stress and
anxiety, the poll showed.
Kurt said his colleague would give him between thirty and forty pills at a
time. Usually he would take the Vicodin while alone, but he occasionally shared
the pills with friends during an evening out. After eighteen months he finally
kicked the habit. "I just felt like I was using too frequently," he
drug misuse has reached epidemic levels and it is now the second most abused
category of drugs in the United States, after marijuana, according to a survey
conducted for the US government.
Pharmacies in the United States dispensed more
than 4 billion prescriptions in 2012, according to IMS Health, a healthcare
research firm. The poll indicated it is not difficult to get hold of such drugs
even without a prescription.
thirds of those who used other people's prescribed drugs were given them by a
family member, friend or acquaintance, the poll showed.
Only about 14% were either taken without permission or purchased. For some,
using other people's prescription drugs is a way to save on healthcare costs.
last two years Megan, 28, has had no health insurance after losing a job
working in a hotel in Eugene, Oregon. When she began having muscle pain around
her hip last year, she sought help from her mother, not her doctor.
Her mother had recently been involved in a car accident and had been prescribed
Flexeril and Vicodin for neck pain, some of which lay unused. Megan took one of
"Had I had insurance, I would just have gone to the doctor, but I didn't
and if you go into the emergency room they just look at you like you are a drug
addict looking for your next fix," she said.
Prescriptions very important
Compton, a division director at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says
dosage levels of prescription drugs are particular to an individual's specific
needs and warns against taking a medicine that has not been
prescribed."Simply because it's a medicine that comes from a pharmacy does
not mean it is without risk," he said.
a reason they require a prescription."These results were taken from the
ongoing Reuters/Ipsos online poll and include the responses of 6 438 adult
Americans between July 24th and August 12th. The credibility interval, a
measure of precision, for these results is plus or minus about 1.4% points.
prescription drug use questions in this story are part a polling project that
began in January 2012, surveying about 11 000 people a month since.
(Picture: prescription drugs from Shutterstock)