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.

minute read
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.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I have read and agree to the conditions outlined in the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

  1. An early retirement in 96 ended abruptly when an epidural abyss was misdiagnosed for 4 days. This resulted in spinal surgery. 18 months of pain clinics resulted in finding that 20mgx2 provided relief with oxycontin.. Seventeen yrs later I detoxed with moderate supervision. Day 23 my system is clean. Unfortunately my pain has returned.
    So while I am hoping to find an alternative. My guality of life has been reduced significantly. If alternatives cannot be found. I will resume use. The only cravings I have is for RELIEF

    1. Hi Jack. You can consult your doctor about the best options for pain management. I’m very sorry that you may need to go back to pain meds after quitting just recently. But, living with pain is much more stressful and harming to your organism than medicating your pain. I wish this will be resolved soon.

  2. After completing 4 years at the University of Northern Colorado for my Bachelor of Science in 1990, 1 year at Johns Hopkins University for my Masters in Health Science in 1996, and 2 ½ years into my Ph.D. in respiratory medicine at the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University in 1996-98, I thought I had complete control of my life. Specifically, my career in aerosol respiratory medicine. I had published my first paper in a respectable peer reviewed medical journal (Chest) when I was 27. Several months after that, I presented the paper at a medical conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. It was one of 9 trips I would take to Germany to consult with a medical company established in Starnberg, Germany.

    By the time I was in my second year of my Ph.D. I had published/presented 54 medical papers, published 6 peer reviewed medical papers, was contributing author on one book, owned and operated my own consulting company in respiratory medicine, developed a patent for respiratory devices, and was progressing successfully in my Ph.D. I was 31 years old and I was proud of my accomplishments and my continuing success in respiratory medicine. But, that was all about to change. Addiction would enter my life and take away from me my possessions, my profession, my loved ones, and my sanity.

    My pathway to addiction started when I made an appointment to see Dr. Cary Suter, M.D. for migraine headaches. I put great trust in him due to the fact that he was the medical schools doctor and was responsible for taking care of the students enrolled in the medical school programs. In a timeframe of 7.9 months I was prescribed 6,647 controlled substance pills. I had pills to help me stay awake and study, pills for helping me sleep, pills for anxiety, and pills for pain. I knew about addiction but I thought I was too intelligent to become addicted. Anyway, these pills were provided to me by the schools doctor who said he had taken pills when he was in medical school to help him succeed. My ignorance would cause me to lose almost a decade of my life and would bring me close to death many times as a result of my severe drug addiction.

    Although Dr. Suter lost his medical license for over prescribing controlled substances and not monitoring that prescribing, it was too late for me. I had to drop out of my Ph.D. program due to my addiction. Dr. Suter lost his license 3 months after I dropped out of the program. At this point in my life, I had to confront and accept some very disturbing facts: I no longer was pursuing the goal I had been following for the past 15 years, I was severely addicted to prescription drugs, the doctor who had been prescribing me the drugs had his medical license revoked, and the main focus of my life was to obtain drugs. I was, in essence, trapped in the severity of my addiction. For the first time I had lost complete control over my life.

  3. oxy addiction is a problem that continues to grow. The fatalitly rate for prescription drug abuse now exceeds the fatality rate for heroin and cocaine combined in Florida.

I am ready to call
i Who Answers?