Painkiller Addiction Increases in the United States

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WRITTEN BY: Billy Gardner
Painkiller addiction enabled by doctors
Image Source: madcowIV via flickr
Painkiller addiction enabled by doctors

The Associated Press released a recent analysis showing the rise in sales of the nation’s most popular prescription painkillers. The numbers are staggering and some areas have increased sixteen fold since the year 2000. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration figures also coincide with the study, showing a drastic increase in the distribution of oxycodone, the key ingredient in OxyContin, Percocet and Percodan.

The United States accounts for 82 percent of the world consumption of oxycodone with the third largest population in the world. Along with the increase in the drug’s distribution, the epidemic that is currently ensuing has caused an increase in death from overdose amongst many other problems like burglarizing pharmacies.

The Associated Press reported, “Nationwide, pharmacies received and ultimately dispensed the equivalent of 69 tons of pure oxycodone and 42 tons of pure hydrocodone in 2010, the last year for which statistics are available. That's enough to give 40 5-mg Percocets and 24 5-mg Vicodins to every person in the United States.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention places these pills in the Opioids category. Opioids “caused 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008 alone,” reports the Associated Press. “And the death toll is rising.”

The increase is partially due to the baby boomer population aging with pain issues but in reality it is due to the willingness of doctors giving out prescriptions according to Gregory Bunt, the medical director at New York’s Daytop Village. The sales have increased because patients have become dependant on the substance and when a prescription runs out, the addicts begin “doctor shopping,” according to Bunt.

The pills are meant to be taken orally but some abusers crush the pills and either snort, smoke or inject them.

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