It is true that Americans are the most drugged society in the world.  When we look at the statistics for overdose deaths, we see that this statement may have some truth behind it.  But, we also need to look at the number of people who abuse drugs and manage not to die from an overdose. Overall, looking at the full spectrum of statistics on drug abuse, the numbers are staggering, and there seems to be no solution forthcoming.

What does our fascination with drugs say about where we are headed as a society?  Are Americans unable to process genuine feelings of grief, anger, or boredom without relying on a pill to take it all away? That’s a good question. Far too many of us turn to pills to solve our woes. For example, one in six adults in the US is taking psychiatric medications.  This translates to over 200 billion dollars a year for the mental health industry.  Not to mention the profits raked in by the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the medications.

To gain a better perspective on the prevalence of prescription drug abuse in America today, let’s look at some statistics on one of the most abused substances on the market today, psychiatric medications.

Risks of Psychiatric Medication Abuse

As an American, you are probably aware of the opioid epidemic wreaking havoc across our nation today.  And you are most likely familiar with the problems we face from illicit drug abuse and the scourge of criminal behavior that follows.  But, we don’t often hear much talk about the widespread abuse of prescription psychiatric drugs. For that reason, we offer some statistics on drug abuse that break down the numbers into categories according to the psychiatric drug being abused.


Antidepressants treat the symptoms of depression.  The FDA states that the advantages of antidepressants are small compared to the significant side-effects, risks, and limitations.

  • 49% of studies fail to prove that the drug works.
  • 55% of people experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug is withheld.
  • 62% of antidepressant users experience sexual dysfunction.
  • 54% of the depression symptoms continue even while taking the medication.
  • 60% of antidepressant users feel numb emotionally.
  • 82% of the benefits of this medication are placebo effects, according to the FDA.
  • People using these medications have an increased risk of developing mania.
  • The suicide risk for children and adults up to age 25 increases 2-times while taking antidepressants.

Medications in this classification include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Wellbutrin, and Lexapro, among others.


Antipsychotics are prescribed to reduce psychosis.  Psychosis is defined as “a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.” Most antipsychotic users don’t experience a noticeable reduction in symptoms.  But, any relief they do get comes with a range of life-altering side effects.

  • 60% of antipsychotic users suffer lingering functional impairment.
  • 53% of users report that they experienced sexual dysfunction.
  • 77% of chronic psychosis patients have a negative response to the medication.
  • Antipsychotic users have an increased risk of diabetes and weight gain.
  • Most users are less likely to be employed if using the meds long-term.
  • Elderly users have a higher risk of cardiac death.
  • Antipsychotics increase brain atrophy.  The longer a person takes the medication, the faster the brain shrinks.

Medications in this classification include Abilify, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel, and more.


Benzos reduce anxiety.  They work quickly and should only be used for a short time. These medications carry the threat of significant cognitive decline and possible life-threatening withdrawal.

  • 84% risk of developing Alzheimer’s after 6 months of use.
  • 80% risk of bone fracture, especially the hip, after only one month of use.
  • 28% of people suffer withdrawal symptoms.  The symptoms can be debilitating and last months or years.  About 21% of people relapse.
  • The risk of death increases by 2-times if used while also taking opioids.
  • Users are at 2-times greater risk of suicidal behavior.
  • Many users are at a 3.5-times increased risk of dementia and significant cognitive loss after long-term use.

Medications in the group include Ativan, Valium, Klonopin, Xanax, and more.

Find More Statistics on Drug Abuse at New Beginnings

At New Beginnings Rehab Center, we strive to be a part of the solution to drug addiction.  Our program has helped hundreds of people reclaim their lives from the grip of addiction. If you would like to know more about the statistics on drug abuse, contact us today.  Or, if you are ready to enroll in a treatment program, we will be happy to assist you.