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Nearly One-Third of Ohio Adults Have Received Prescription for Pain Medication in Last Five Years

Oct 24, 2018

A valid prescription for pain relievers can provide comfort and relief to individuals facing illness or injury, but it can also come with risk—both for overdose and for addiction.

Data from the 2018 Ohio Health Issues Poll show that in the past five years, about 3 in 10 Ohio adults (29%) had been prescribed a pain reliever by a medical professional.

“We often feel safe when using medications prescribed by a health care provider,” said O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO of Interact for Health. “But certain pain relievers must be prescribed and taken with care. If such medications are taken in ways or amounts other than intended, or by someone other than the person from whom it was prescribed, serious consequences can occur, including substance abuse disorders, overdose and death. This is especially true when use of prescription medications is combined with other drugs or alcohol.”

Steps to ensure safe storage and use

Individuals who are prescribed prescription pain medications should work with their health care provider and pharmacist to ensure that they are receiving the appropriate medication, in the right dosage and for the appropriate length of time.

Anyone with leftover medications should take steps to safely dispose of them. This could include using one of the many prescription drug drop boxes in the community. For an interactive map of prescription drug drop boxes in Greater Cincinnati, visit

“National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, held this Saturday, Oct. 27, is a great time to take inventory of our medicine cabinets and make sure we have on hand only what we need,” said Owens. “By keeping medicines out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, you can help make our communities safe and drug-free.”

To learn more about National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, visit

Prescription pain medications more likely for those in poor health

Other notable data from the Ohio Health Issues Poll related to prescription drugs:

  • Ohioans who viewed their own health as fair or poor (43%) were more likely to have been prescribed prescription pain medications in the last five years than those who rated their health as good (27%) or excellent/very good (24%).
  • Ohioans are receiving prescriptions for pain medications from a variety of health care providers. When asked from whom the prescription came, surgeon was the most common response (39%), followed by primary care doctor (25%), other medical professional (17%), dentist (10%) and doctor in emergency room (9%).
  • Among Ohioans who had been prescribed a pain medication in the past five years, the majority felt that they’d received the right amount of pills (69%), while 12% felt that they’d been prescribed more than necessary, and 18% felt they’d received fewer than required.

About the Ohio Health Issues Poll

The 2018 Ohio Health Issues Poll is sponsored by Interact for Health. OHIP was conducted May 22-June 19, 2018, by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. A random sample of 816 adults from throughout Ohio was interviewed by telephone. This included 363 landline telephone interviews and 452 cell phone interviews. In 95 out of 100 cases, statewide estimates will be accurate to ± 3.4%. There are other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question wording, or context effects that can introduce error or bias. For more information about the Ohio Health Issues Poll, please visit

About Interact for Health

Interact for Health is improving the health of all people in our region. We serve as a catalyst by promoting health equity through grants, education, research, policy and engagement. To amplify the impact of our work, Interact for Health focuses on three strategic priorities: reducing tobacco use, addressing the opioid epidemic and ensuring that children have access to health care through school-based health centers. We are an independent foundation that serves 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

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