OxyContin Addiction Statistics

Top 5 annual .gov reports with statistics on OxyContin use, abuse and addiction facts. Plus, where to find OxyContin addiction statistics on the web.

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Reviewed by: Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

ARTICLE SUMMARY: The U.S. government does not track statistics by drug, but by class of drug. Reliable data can be found through multiple government websites and annual reports. Therefore, accurate information about abuse, overdose, death, and recovery from opioid drugs and OxyContin can be found through research.


Key Definitions

OxyContin is a prescription painkiller that contains oxyocodone. Oxycodone is an opioid drug, a man-made narcotic that acts on key areas of the brain that control our perception of pain. Because prescription opioids are similar to opium, they act on the same receptors in the brain. However, in addition to pain relief, Oxycontin also produces a euphoric high.

Can OxyContin get you high?  Yes.  This is why public health systems are so interested in tracking OxyContin use, abuse and addiction treatment. For example, Dr. Nora Volkow, NIDA Director described OxyContin’s dangers in a 2014 report to Congress. She noted that this ability to get people high presents an intrinsic abuse and addiction liability, particularly when used for non-medical purposes. OxyContin is most dangerous and addictive when taken via methods that increase their euphoric effects. This is called drug abuse, and incudes:

  • chewing pills
  • crushing pills and then snorting or injecting the powder
  • combining the pills with alcohol or other drugs
  • taking more oxycodone than prescribed or taking it more frequently

Also, some people taking OxyContin are not taking them exactly as prescribed; this is described as misuse: taking more pills at once, or taking them more frequently or combining them with medications for which they are not being properly controlled.


The 2016 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that an estimated 3.9 million people misused oxycodone products in the past year. This number represents 1.4 percent of people aged 12 or older. Oxycodone products include

  • OxyContin®
  • Percocet®
  • Percodan®
  • Roxicodone®
  • and generic oxycodone

You can find more on the demographics, state distribution, and mental health co-occuring problems related to OxyContin abuse here: SAMHSA Topic Reports on OxyContin.


There is no data for OxyContin-specific addiction. The NSDUH reported that in 2016, an estimated 2.1 million people aged 12 or older
could be diagnosed with an opioid use disorder, or 0.8 percent of people aged 12 or older. This breaks down into the following demographics, as an estimated:

  • 0.6 % of adolescents aged 12 to 17 had an opioid use disorder  (153,000 adolescents).
  • 1.1 % of young adults aged 18 to 25 had an opioid use disorder (392,000 young adults).
  • 0.8 % of adults aged 26 or older had an opioid use disorder (1.6 million adults).


The CDC reports again, in 2016, every day, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids. Again this data is not “OxyContin-only”, but it gives you a good idea that there is a problem. More precise information has not been available since 2011, when the Drug Abuse Warning Network published the following stats about the nonmedical use of painkiller prescriptions:

  • Emergency room visits involving oxycodone increased from 2005 to 2009.
  • Oxycodone is the most common narcotic pain reliever among visits involving nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals.
  • Of the estimated 1.24M emergency room visits involving medications, 366K (29 percent) involved opioids.
  • Opioid-related emergency room visits increased 117 percent from 2005 to 2011.
  • From 2005 to 2011, all age groups experienced increases in the rate of narcotic pain reliever–related ED visits involving nonmedical use, except for adolescents aged 12 to 17.


Deaths related to OxyContin overdose in the United States are reported by the Centers for Disease Control. While it is difficult to separate OxyContin-only data from public reports, we do know that the general class of opioid drug use, overdose, and death continues to increase. In fact, in 2016 a record number of overdose deaths related to opioids were reported by the CDC. Here are some data and statistics:

  • The majority of drug overdose deaths, three out of five, or 66%, involve an opioid.
  • Deaths from drug overdose are up among both men and women, all races, and adults of nearly all ages.
  • Deaths from prescription opioids like oxycodone,have more than quadrupled since 1999.
  • From 2000 to 2016, more than 600,000 people died from drug overdoses.
  • Overdoses involving opioids killed more than 42,000 people in 2016.
  • On average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

The CDC reports further that overdoses from prescription painkillers are significant. The amount of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, yet there had not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans reported.


It is difficult to estimate how many people are in recovery from OxyContin addiction. In fact,we only have data from treatment admissions. This doesn’t tell us about treatment success rates or abstinance. There are three ways to find data about addiction treatment.

  1. The National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS) is an annual survey designed to collect data on the location, characteristics, and use of rehab  facilities and services in the U.S.
  2. You can search the Treatment Admissions Report from the TEDS system in 2014 by Primary Substance of Abuse for demographics related to age, gender, and ethnicity.
  3. The NSDUH contains general information about treatment need, services, and attendance.

Government Sources of Stats

1. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) – The National Survey on Drug Use and Health is an annual report on the prevalence, patterns and consequences of drug use and prescription drug abuse of pain meds like OxyContin. The survey gives a fairly accurate picture of what’s happening with drug use in the U.S. and targets civilian households in all states of the general population aged 12 and older. The results of this survey are published every year on the SAMHSA website with images, graphs and comparisons from the previous year.

2. Monitoring the Future – This national survey is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and reports on drug use as well as behaviors, attitudes, and values of American 8th, 10th, and 12th graders.

3. Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) – This is an annual report on U.S. drug rehab admissions and discharges. The data published in the TEDS report is collected from drug rehabs across the country that receive state or federal money, but generally provides helpful information for people involved in drug treatment program planning and resource allocation. Topics covered include substances of abuse, treatment service characteristics, referral sources, prior substance abuse treatment, client characteristics, geographic characteristics, and discharge characteristics.

4. Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) – The DAWN publications monitor drug-related hospital emergency visits and drug-related deaths to track the impact of drug use, misuse, and abuse in the U.S. Annually, DAWN produces estimates of drug-related visits to hospital ERs for the Nation as a whole and for selected metropolitan areas. DAWN helps identify the emergence of new substances and drug combinations, assess health hazards associated with drug abuse, and estimate the impact of drug misuse and abuse on the Nation’s health care system. Furthermore, there are a few types of publications available. The DAWN reports are broken down into Emergency Department Publications, Mortality Publications and Special Topics collected from public health institutions. Special topics summarize findings on topics of interest or focus on particular metropolitan areas.

5. State data on drug use – In this collection of information, you can review state level estimates of drug use for all the individual States are available from the SAMHSA’s Office of Applied Studies (OAS) since 1999.

EXTRA TIP: You can also create a customized analysis on-line with using government data sets to meet your own special needs. The Office of Applied Studies from SAMHSA allows you to download data to conduct your own analysis here: http://oas.samhsa.gov/quick.cfm#States

6. The CDC – The National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does collect information on many of the more commonly used drugs. The CDC also has a searchable database, called CDC Wonder.

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS serves as the Chief Medical Officer of the Texas Healt...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.

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