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Top Ten Most Widely Used Drugs By All Americans

Updated on February 18, 2017

10 Statins (High Cholesterol Medication)

Statins are taken by about 25 million Americans to lower their LDL cholesterol levels, which can cause heart attacks and strokes if it is too high. Medicines such as statins were used by 28% of citizens age 40 and over in 2012, according to data reported by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. With weight being a factor in the body’s natural production of cholesterol and roughly 36% of all citizens over 18 being overweight more people are using statins than decades before. Commonly used statins include Lipitor, Zocor and Cresto. One particular statin drug, Zocor was used by approximately 8% of United States citizens 18 years or older in 2011.

9 Antidepressants

Over 41 million Americans have taken antidepressants. Roughly 13% of Americans take antidepressants; most of them are women. More than 2 million children, citizens under the age of 18, have taken or are taking antidepressants. Another 2.8 Million citizens ages 18 through 24 are using or have used these types of drugs. About one in four women ages 50-65 currently use antidepressants. People ages 45 to 64 use antidepressants the most, with an estimated amount of 16 million Americans taking the drug. Popular antidepressants prescribed are Zoloft and Prozac among many others. Over the past decade there has been a noticeable increase in the amount of people using antidepressants in America, in the 2000s four times as much individual antidepressants were used as compared to the 1990s.


8 Aspirin

Over 33% of all American adults take aspirin, that’s well over 50 million people. It aides in preventing heart attacks and strokes, lowering the risk of experiencing them in the first place. Many older Americans take aspirin daily and even kids take aspirin. Only 40% of elderly Americans that medically should be taking aspirin are on an aspirin regimen. That means there are millions of Americans who could benefit from taking them but currently are not. Aspirin is also used to treat migraines, something 30 million Americans, mainly between the ages of 20 and 50 unfortunately experience. Women are especially prone to migraines, nearly half (48%) of all women experience a migraine sometime in their life. Migraines are triggered by stress and are often hereditary. The exact percentage of Americans taking aspirin to treat migraines are unknown but it has been known that it has been used for the better part of the past 100 years. Doctors still may recommend the use of daily aspirin in conjecture with other medicines in the treatment of migraine headaches. Aspirin has been and will remain a common drug in household medical kits and bathroom cabinets for as long as America exists.

7 Antacids

An astonishing 100 million people get heartburn every month, 15 million people suffer from heartburn within a typical day in America; for help they turn to antacids for relief. Women are more likely to experience heartburn than men. If you think about it children also experience heart burn an indigestion, which means it is a widely used an available drug in the American household. The antacid industry makes about 10 billion dollars in sales in the course of a year, this includes brands like Zantac, Pepeto-bismol, Rolaids, Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid. In 2011 Pepto-bismol alone was in 40% of American homes and was used by about 7% of Americans who said they had used it within the past 30 days. Antacids are used to treat more than just upset stomachs and heartburn, some are used to treat gastrointestinal diseases and those that involve acid in the stomach and digestive system. In 2009 about 173 million individual products of antacids and other medicine used to treat gas were sold within the year.

6 Antibiotics

If you have ever skinned your knee as a child and your mom put ointment on it then you have used antibiotics. Antibiotics are a type of drug, among which there are many different classifications. Azithromycin and amoxicillin are the most common specific names of individual antibiotics prescribed. Scientific research shows that 80% of Americans are using antibiotics at some point in a year as prescribed by their doctor. The high use of antibiotics like azithromycin can be attributed to doctor’s error in prescriptions. Doctors commonly tell patients to take azithromycin to treat bronchitis, which will never be able to work against the virus that causes it. Antibiotics are used to treat about half of all ear infections. They are used to treat strep throat for young kids although most sore throats, 80%, are caused by viruses which are not killed by antibiotics. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention about half of prescribed antibiotics in 2013 warranted no medical reason for their use.

Antibiotics are injected into animals such as chickens and cows, uses such as these account for 80% of the total antibiotics used in America. This is the reason for some recalls of animal products such as beef and chicken because although the antibiotics kill most bacteria a few strains of resistant bacteria survive and contaminate the meat resulting in food recalls and consumers getting sick. If you include animals that would make antibiotics the most widely used drug in America among all living organisms.

5 Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen is a popular drug that is one of many legal pain killers used in America. It is found in both over the counter drugs like Tylenol, and prescription drugs like Vicodin and Percocet. There are slightly more over the counter products sold in the United States that contain acetaminophen (52%) than prescription products that contain the drug (48%). Nearly 1 in 4 Americans, or 23%, will take acetaminophen in the span of a week. The vast majority, 75%, of prescription drug abuse is attributed to prescription painkillers. Prescription painkillers are wrongly used by roughly 10% of students in grade 12. Amazingly, 80% of all legal painkillers in the world are purchased and used by Americans. Medical professionals believe that most of legal painkillers prescribed have no medical reasoning behind them. A group of researchers who conducted interviews with 500 patients leaving clinics found that over 50% of them had used acetaminophen within the last 6 months and that 19% of the patients were taking the drug daily. Acetaminophen is also found in more products than just pain killers such as Mucinex, Nyquil, Robitussin, Alka-Seltzer Plus and even Vicks.

4 Tobacco

Today about 36 million Americans smoke cigarettes. Over a fourth of all Americans, 25.5%, that are 12 or older have used some form of tobacco in the last month according to research conducted in 2013. Although cigarette and tobacco use is declining in recent years, 4% of 8th grade students, 7.2% of 10th grade students, and 13.6% of high school seniors were reported to use such products within a month in 2014. Around 2013 there were an estimated 2 million tobacco user that were only 12 to 17 years old. Research has shown that 90% of smokers have smoked by the age of 18. A startling 75% of those teenagers who smoke end up smoking as an adult despite the fact that 45% of them wanted to quit. Each day about 3,200 people under the age of 18 have cigarettes or cigars for the first time. In 2015 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 15.1% of American adults, about 36 and a half million individuals, were using some form of tobacco product. Although its apparent Americans are not happy smoking tobacco, for example in 2011 nearly 70% off smokers no longer wanted to use the drug. Amazingly roughly 47% of cigarette and cigar users over the age of 18 become daily smokers.

3 Marijuana

Though it is technically illegal in all 50 states due to federal laws, 26 states have legalize pot and more states are beginning to legalize marijuana. It is by far the most widely used illegal drug. and Almost half of Americans, 49%, have admitted to having some form of marijuana in their lives. Other estimates are that it has been used by nearly 100 million Americans at some point in their lives. During the course of 2016 25 million people used marijuana. Marijuana was smoke roughly 20 times a month by 10% of teenagers in 2012. In 2016, 2.5% of all high school sophomores and 4.8% of high school seniors used marijuana daily. A research study found that between 2006 and 2013, there was an increase of 71% of citizens 50 years or older, especially those between ages 50 and 64. Marijuana use starts early in an Americans life, only 4% of adults past the age of 35 started using pot for the first time.


2 Alcohol

Drinking of alcoholic beverages is extremely common in America, 86.4% of citizens over 18 have ingested the drug in some quantity or form in their life. Slightly more than half of American adults typically drink alcohol within a month, with 56% stating so. Yet not all drinkers are above the age of 21, alcohol use can start at a young age. Nearly a third, 33.1%, of 15 year olds admitted to having consumed alcohol at least once in their lives, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health for 2015. Nearly 9 million underage Americans ages 12 to 20 have stated that they drank at least a few mouthfuls of alcohol in the past month. When American citizens reach the age of 18, a startling 60% of them have tried alcohol. Astonishingly underage users binge drink 90% of the total amount of alcohol they consume (link 4). There are approximately 623,000 children ages 12-17 that have Alcohol Use Disorder, which is defined as drinking that has severe negative impacts on a person’s life. The use of alcohol has been a part of American culture since it was founded and will continue to thrive as long as our nation exists.



1 Caffeine

The average American consumes some form of drink or food with caffeine in it, with 80% of citizens age 18 and over ingesting caffeine daily. Obvious sources of caffeine are coffee and soda, but tea and chocolate can have caffeine in them as well. It is the number one drug in America because unlike illegal and prescription drugs it is widely used among children. An astonishing 73% of American children ingest some sort of caffeine within a 24 hour period according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 24% of children ingest caffeine by drinking coffee and another 6% receive caffeine through energy drinks. Surprisingly, tea was the top source that children age 5 or younger got their caffeine from. Based on research that took place in Ohio children in grades 7 through 9 were found to take 53 milligrams of caffeine daily on average. Yet nearly 20% of these students had caffeine levels higher than 100 milligrams in the span of a day. Teenagers when stressed with schoolwork and studying turn to drinking soda containing caffeine to keep them up all night. American adults on average take double that amount, 200 milligrams in a 24 hour period.


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