The CDC has declared prescription drug abuse an epidemic in our country. In 2011, the United States had 5% of the world’s population, but was consuming 75% of the world’s prescription drugs. You do the math. That’s a lot of pills. But why are we out consuming every other country when it comes to RX drugs?

“Non-medical” drug abuse means the intentional or unintentional use of medication without a prescription, in any other way than it is prescribed, or for the experience and feeling it causes.

Unfortunately, many people become addicted to prescription drugs that they began taking for legitimate reasons. To minimize the potential risk of pharmaceutical drug addiction, it is imperative that patients follow their doctor’s orders to a “T.” Disposing of medicines properly is a must and should be a top priority. Before you start thinking about back-alley drug deals, the truth is, more than 50% of non-medical prescription drug users report that they received RX drugs from a friend or family member at no cost. Four out of five of them indicated that their friend or relative obtained the drugs from a doctor.

It may seem like an amiable gesture to lend a friend in need an unused prescription for some much needed relief of a toothache or injury, but besides the fact that doling out medicine on your own is illegal, if you’re not a doctor, don’t pretend to be one. Drug seeking behavior can be hard to spot, even in someone you are close to.

An illicit drug was used for the first time by 2.8 million people age 12 and older over the course of 2013. That comes out to 7,800 people per day. Two million of them were using a non-medical RX drug when they first tried an illicit drug. That’s 5,500 people every day. See the conundrum?

Though marijuana is the most widely abused illicit drug in the United States, legal medicines are not far behind. Over-the-counter and prescription drugs can do a lot of good, but many can be quite dangerous if not taken properly. In 2012, 22,114 of the 41,502 drug overdose deaths in the United States were related to pharmaceutical drugs. Take a look at this infographic below to learn more about prescription drug abuse in America and what you can do to help someone you love get on the right path to beating their addiction.

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