Nearly 70% Of Americans Are On Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs

This is a very, very scary statistic (unless you work for Big Pharma, in which case it’s just the start). The Mayo Clinic reports on its study:

Nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half take two, Mayo Clinic researchers say. Antibiotics, antidepressants and painkilling opioids are most commonly prescribed, their study found. Twenty percent of patients are on five or more prescription medications, according to the findings, published online in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Researchers find the data valuable because it gives insight into prescribing practices. The statistics from the Rochester Epidemiology Project in Olmsted County, Minn. are comparable to those elsewhere in the United States, says study author Jennifer St. Sauver, Ph.D., a member of the Mayo Clinic Population Health Program in the Mayo Clinic Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.

“Often when people talk about health conditions they’re talking about chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes,” Dr. St. Sauver says. “However, the second most common prescription was for antidepressants — that suggests mental health is a huge issue and is something we should focus on. And the third most common drugs were opioids, which is a bit concerning considering their addicting nature.”

Seventeen percent of those studied were prescribed antibiotics, 13 percent were taking antidepressants and 13 percent were on opioids. Drugs to control high blood pressure came in fourth (11 percent) and vaccines were fifth (11 percent). Drugs were prescribed to both men and women across all age groups, except high blood pressure drugs, which were seldom used before age 30…

[More on the study from the Mayo Clinic]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

Latest posts by majestic (see all)

6 Comments on "Nearly 70% Of Americans Are On Prescription Drugs"

  1. Yep, I was talking to some of my colleagues the other day and most of them were on some kind of prescription antidepressant. I suggested that perhaps being depressed, anxious and basically freaked out is a perfectly normal and healthy reaction to the fucked up world we live in, and that the pharmaceuticals were merely dealing with symptoms and not the actual cause, which was not necessarily coming from them but rather from “the system.” This, of course, was met with all kinds of denial and a resigned attitude to their situation. I did not push it, because I did not really want to upset anyone any more than they already were.
    I myself have some experience with antidepressants. Years ago, I was on Wellbutrin for about a year. I actually liked it, but for the fact that it fucked up my sleep and I then needed meds to deal with that. Anyway, been off the pharmaceuticals for years now.
    I sound like an evangelical, but I have found much relief for all that depression, anxiety and a buncha other existential heebeejeebees with ayahuasca. In fact, I’m doing another a ten-day dieta in mid July:)

  2. mannyfurious | Jun 20, 2013 at 10:18 am |

    The way I look at it is we’re a nation of drug addicts who thumb our noses at other drug addicts.

    I used to self-medicate with booze. It was a terrible time for me, although I had some fun moments. Personally, I think meds treat symptoms, not actual problems, and I’ve lived a much better life free of all substances for the past 8 years ever since I’ve made attempts to be wholly honest with myself and what has a tendency to still bother me, but who am I to tell others what’s best for them? If it’s Zoloft, so be it. But if it’s coke, so be it. I try not to be hypocritical about the whole thing.

  3. Charlie Primero | Jun 20, 2013 at 11:12 am |

    My dope dealer is from India. He wears a spiffy long white coat. His office ladies are nice too. They sometimes give me Pharmaceutical Corporation swag like pens, letter openers, and sticky pads.

    He’s a Muslim, so he’s stingy with the opiates. I need to find an old croaker who doesn’t fear the DEA screwing up his Cessna payments.

    Just kidding. That’s my Dad’s dealer, whose stinginess he bitches about constantly. I don’t take drugs anymore.

  4. InfvoCuernos | Jun 20, 2013 at 4:11 pm |

    I knew the number was high, but I didn’t know it was that high. not that I’m terribly surprised. I know people that are hooked on pharma, and people that are hooked on illicit drugs, and people that are hooked on legal over the counter stuff like booze, and they are really all the same. They all have very valid and very real reasons why they absolutely need their poison. I’m not straight edge, and I’ve been through my own over indulgences, but I think that most humans are wired toward abusing substances in general. If it wasn’t pills it would be heroine or speed or coffee or cough syrup. Its always a good idea to keep your monkeys under control, the little bastards get out of hand pretty quick.

  5. BuzzCoastin | Jun 20, 2013 at 7:44 pm |

    humans have long been using substances
    “to take the edge off”

    revolutionary war America
    drank about 6 gallons of hard alcohol per person per year
    today it’s less than half that amount
    because there are so many more “highs” to choose from

  6. When I was 16 I was severely depressed and put me on meds. Both my parents had been on antidepressants since their 30s. Both my grandmothers take antidepressants. My grandfather and brother are severely OCD. By the time I was 21, I had been on four different types of antidepressants, all with terrible side effects. I was so tired of it. I flat out quit, which no one ever told me was a terrible thing to do (withdrawal, mood changes); but I am glad I did it. Three years later, a lifestyle of daily exercise and clean eating has helped quell most of the severity of my depression, and all I have to deal with now is anxiety about the world at large. On bad days, in the back of my head, I wish I had a pill to make it easy, and make all the overwhelming emotions go away. But that’s why so many people are on medications; because it is easier than dealing with the problem properly. We are a very convenience based nation. But I don’t know, I couldn’t do it, taking pills just made me feel broken.

Comments are closed.