I wanted to answer the question: who is sourcing prescription drugs that are being used for non-medical effects? So I looked to the most up-to-date (but out of date) study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Adminstration (SAMSHA) from 2008 for my answers.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use, from 2007-2008, prescription pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives were used for non prescription uses. Not surprisingly, most people 12 or older using prescription drugs for non-prescription uses got the pills from friends or relatives. In fact, more than 70% of all illegal users obtained prescription pills from friends or family. See the following chart for complete statistics.
What is surprising about these studies, and what I must contest as an online researcher is that less than 1% of all people found prescription drugs illegally online. This needs to be investigated further. In a brief online search for the keywords related to “prescription”, 67 of the top 100 keywords were related to looking for prescription drugs online – with or without a prescription. The total number of searches PER DAY related to buying prescription drugs online was estimated at 54,608! Although the popularity of online searches for prescription drugs could have increased in the past two years, and search results are the result of worldwide queries, 19 million people annually are looking for drugs online.
Here’s a random sample of some of the keywords people use in search engine queries:
- drugs online without a prescription
- no prescription pharmacy
- buy hydrocodone without prescription
- phentermine no prescription
- buy ambien without a prescription
- online md consultations for prescriptions
- cheap tramadol prescriptions online
- purchase medications without a prescription
- phentermine without prescription
Although friends and family are the most reported sources of prescription pill drugs, I believe that researchers MUST look at the increasing trend of searching for prescription pills online. And to consider making legislative recommendations to prevent the misuse of the internet for non prescription drug sales and use. What do you think? Are people searching online legitimately for prescription drugs? Would more federal law regulating internet sales of pills help or hurt control prescription drug misuse? Are pharmaceuticals simply too big to even approach the topic? Your comments are welcomed.