Ever feel like you’re taking more medications than the average person? Do you look at your pill dispenser and think it looks a bit full? It may help you to know how many pills other people across the country are taking. That’s where we come in. Here’s a look at how many prescription meds the average American takes.
For starters, we’re just talking about prescriptions
We aren’t counting the little bottles of aspirin that you can buy without a prescription. And we certainly aren’t counting vitamins and supplements. (Especially since many supplements don’t have to get approved by the FDA before they are put on grocery store shelves.)
These are the most common Rx meds …
In the wide world of prescription drugs, painkillers are the most common. A list of the 50 most prescribed drugs in the country puts blood pressure meds like Lipitor towards the top. But anxiety med Xanax and painkiller Vicodin have become increasingly popular over the years.
… and the conditions they fight
As previously stated, blood pressure and anxiety are common reasons for taking prescription medications. But painkillers, antibiotics, and antidepressants are still the most commonly prescribed. This suggests that mental health is a main issue that Rx medications are being prescribed for, along with chronic pain.
There is a gender difference
The most common medications have different levels of popularity depending on the gender of the patient. For example, men are more likely to take blood pressure and cholesterol medication. Antidepressants, on the other hand, are more commonly taken by women. Gender doesn’t have an effect, however, on the rise of prescription drug use in the country …
The average American …
A study published by Mayo Clinic a few years back reveals that 70% of Americans take at least one prescription medication. The same study shows that 20% of Americans are on five or more medications. It was also revealed that prescription drug use among Americans has steadily increased over the past 10 years.
America vs. the world
Not surprisingly, America consumes most of the world’s supply of painkillers. “If you include Canada and Western Europe, it (consumption of global opioid supply) increases to 95%, so the remaining countries only have access to about 5% of the opioid supply,” Vikesh Singh from Johns Hopkins University told CNBC in 2016.
The opioid crisis
The growing use of prescription opioids has also caused a rise in addiction and death. Shocking data published in the New York Times earlier this year reveals that prescription drug overdose is now the leading cause of death among people under the age of 50 in the U.S. It is likely that the number of overdoses exceeded 59,000 in 2016, the data said.
If you are concerned that you are taking too many prescriptions drugs, there is help out there. There are more than 14,000 drug treatment centers across the country that can offer alternative methods to prescription drug use.