According to the U.S. surgeon general, more Americans now use prescription opioids than smoke cigarettes.1 This makes sense when you consider prescriptions for opioid painkillers rose by 300 percent between 2000 and 2009,2,3 and Americans now use 80 percent of all the opioids sold worldwide.4
In Alabama, which has the highest opioid prescription rate in the U.S., 143 prescriptions are written for every 100 people.5 A result of this over-prescription trend is skyrocketing deaths from overdoses.6,7
The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths, specifically, include8 methadone, oxycodone (such as OxyContin®) and hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®).
As noted by Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): "We know of no other medication routinely used for a nonfatal condition that kills patients so frequently."9
There are safe options to treat pain, but education — both among doctors and patients — is sorely lacking. This is why I frequently write about this issue, and hope you'll do your part in spreading the word.
Far too many people in the prime of their life are losing it to painkiller addiction, and often they simply had no idea a prescription painkiller for a temporary injury or pain would send them into the throes of drug addiction.