Almost 70% of Americans Take Rx Drugs

By Chrisanne Grise 06/20/13

A study finds opioid painkillers are among the most common, with 13% of the US taking them.

Opioids are a concern because of their
"addicting nature"
Photo via

Nearly seven out of ten Americans take at least one prescription drug, over 50% take two, and 20% take five or more, according to a new study by the Mayo Clinic. The most common type of medication is antibiotics (17% of those studied), followed by antidepressants (13%) and painkilling opioids (also 13%). While the statistics are from the Rochester Epidemiology Project in Minnesota, study author Jennifer St. Sauver says they are comparable to elsewhere in the US, and reveal crucial insights into current medical practices. "Often when people talk about health conditions they're talking about chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes," she explains. "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." Researchers found that overall, women and older adults have more prescriptions than other groups, while young and middle-aged adults are more likely to be on antidepressants and opioids. Prescription drug use has been on the rise in the US for the last decade. The number of people taking at least one drug in the past month increased from 44% in 1999-2000 to 48% in 2007-2008.

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Chrisanne Grise is a multimedia journalist specializing in health/fitness, lifestyle, travel, bridal, and music. Her work has appeared in print and online for publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Parents, FitnessMagazine, Fisher Price, Bridal Guide, Scholastic's Choices,,, and more. She is the Senior Editor at The New York Times Upfront. Follow her on Linkedin and Twitter.