County of Marin Health and Human Services

prescription drugs


Prescription drug misuse is the nation’s fastest growing health problem and a serious concern in Marin County.1  In Marin, more people die from misusing prescription drugs than from motor vehicle accidents.2  Prescription drug misuse is defined as the non-medical use of physician prescribed medication. The most commonly misused prescriptions include opiates, benzodiazepines, and amphetamine-related stimulants.

Prescription drugs are becoming a new gateway drug. Of the 3 million people who began using illicit drugs in 2010, over 25% began by misusing prescription drugs.3  Among young people, prescription drugs are the most commonly abused drug following marijuana.4  Marin County 11th graders misuse prescription pain killers, sedatives, and barbiturates as much as their California peers. The rate of stimulant misuse among Marin County 11th graders however, is 25% greater than the state average.5  Prescription drug misuse is a complex public health problem, contributing to intentional and unintentional drug poisonings, fatal overdoses, and community violence.

The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is convening a group of key stakeholders to gain a clearer understanding of the issue and to create a comprehensive plan for reducing prescription drug misuse in our community.

Additionally, HHS and Boston University are offering a CME conference in San Rafael to support safe and effective management of pain on January 18, 2014, location pending.

For more information please contact Kristen Law

  1. (2011), “Epidemic: Responding to America’s Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis,” accessed 09/19/2013. 
  2.   National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fatality Analysis Reporting System. California Department of Public Health, EpiCenter Injury Surveillance Query
  3.   Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, accessed 09/23/2013. 
  4.   Office of National Drug Control Policy, “Prescription Drug Abuse,” accessed 09/16/2013.
  5.   California Healthy Kids Survey, 2009-2011