Levi said abuse of prescription painkillers alone is costing the country an estimated $53.4 billion in criminal justice and medical costs, as well as lost productivity. The report also says only 1 in 10 Americans with a drug problem receives treatment.
The trust says some strategies to curb the problem appear to be working, including public awareness, more treatment options, and Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs that provide real-time interstate information that can help identify so-called problem prescribers and so-called "doctor shoppers," people who visit multiple doctors to get more prescriptions for the same drug.
The report, funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says a national survey found the number of Americans abusing prescription drugs dipped from 7 million in 2010 to 6.1 in 2011.
But earlier this year, authorities involved in efforts to crack down on the prescription drug dealing in West Virginia said they were seeing an alarming increase in heroin trafficking as users began seeking less expensive drugs.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said that while prescription drugs are the biggest crime problem in West Virginia's southern district, heroin seizures by drug task forces more than quadrupled from 2011 to 2012.
His office did not immediately comment Monday.