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LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A recent survey conducted by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health found that more than 15 percent of adult residents in Los Angeles County report misuse of prescription pain medications. Rates of misuse among 18-34 years old was the highest – with nearly one in four reported misusing prescription pain medications. Prescription pain medications carry with them the risk of dependence, addiction and overdose, and are the leading cause of opioid-related deaths in Los Angeles County.

“The misuse of prescription pain medications and opioids is a serious public health concern. The findings demonstrate it is critical that we provide our residents with information to better understand the risks associated with taking prescription opioids,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “I encourage all community members to ask their doctor questions if they are prescribed pain medication and to feel empowered to seek help if they are experiencing dependence or addiction.”

Additional findings of the survey include:

  • Nearly 40 percent of the adult general population were “concerned” about prescription pain medications misuse in their communities.
  • One in four (24.1 percent) respondents who actively misuse prescription pain medications believe that prescription opioids are always safe.
  • Among those who misuse prescription pain medications, the most common reasons given were for recreation (to fit in, relax, get high, or have fun), functionality (help stay awake, sleep, or help with work), mental health (to deal with anxiety, stress, or depression), and to treat pain.
  • 37.6 percent of misusers “often” or “always” think their prescription pain medications use is out of control. Older adults who misuse are more likely to believe this than younger adults who misuse.
  • 27.5 percent of misusers “often” or “always” believe the prospect of missing a dose of prescription pain medications makes them anxious or worried. Older adults who misuse are more likely to believe this than younger adults who misuse.
  • In general, perceived risks of prescription pain medications are higher among non-misusers than misusers.

The study is part of an evaluation of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s current mass media campaign, Manage Pain Safely, which is aimed at educating County residents on the dangers of prescription pain medications and tools to explore safer alternatives to manage pain. The campaign includes an evaluation component of collected data both before and after campaign launch to assess changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors around prescription pain medications.

The campaign was launched on June 27th and includes public service announcements on radio and television, digital messages, outdoor billboards, and bus shelter signs. Outreach to doctor’s offices, dental clinics, and independent pharmacies also included posters designed to help patients talk to their health care provider about prescription pain use. The campaign speaks to a variety of experiences with prescription opioids: from those who have been newly prescribed or haven’t been taking prescription opioids for very long, to those who may have developed a dependence or addiction.

The campaign asks people to talk to their doctors about the safest way to manage their pain. It also encourages people to seek treatment if they are struggling with dependence or addiction.

The County’s Substance Abuse Service Helpline at 844-804-7500 can connect you to treatment, including options that are covered by insurance, including Medi-Cal and My Health LA. A team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Since the start of the campaign, there have been more than 7,000 calls for assistance and referrals.

If you think your loved one or someone you’re caring for may be addicted to opioids, speak with a health professional right away. There is information about identifying the signs of dependence, addiction and overdose, and how to help a loved one at

The Department of Public Health is committed to promoting health equity and ensuring optimal health and well-being for all 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health comprises nearly 4,500 employees and has an annual budget of $1.2 billion. To learn more about the LA County Department of Public Health and the work they do, visit, and follow Public Health on social media at,, and

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health works to protect health, prevent disease, and promote health and well-being.


Fraser Communications

Denis Wolcott


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