Opiate Addiction in America

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Americans Use 80% of the World’s Pain Pills.


Opiate use in the United States is an epidemic. The numbers are frightening – Americans consume 80% of the world’s pain killers and since 2009 sales of prescription painkillers have increased 300% (dailymail.co.uk, Michael Zennie). Since 2002, the number of people that use opiates, of which oxycodone and hydrocodone are the key ingredients, has increased by 600 percent (Business Insider, Michael Kelley).
This is a startling jump in users which leads to a rise in crime by these users, prescription abuse death (tripled between 1999 and 2008 – that’s 14,800 deaths a year), babies being born that require opiate withdrawal treatment not to mention to the financial and emotional toll it takes on the users and their family and friends.

Why are so many people abusing these drugs that are primarily meant for pain relief due to trauma, post-operative pain and chronic pain? Mainly because Americans are being over-prescribed (for relatively minor ailments), over medicated with drugs that are highly addictive and pharmaceutical companies are creating incentives to doctors to prescribe more opiates. Also, laws governing opiate prescriptions have eased which has contributed to an overprescribed society. These drugs are cheap and easy to get and a small percentage of opiate users actually get their prescriptions from one doctor. As the addiction takes its toll most abusers have to seek out other doctors to get their supply – this is also known as doctor shopping.

Abuse of these drugs lead to severe psychological and physical dependence and painkiller addiction is extremely punishing on the body and mind. It’s a hard one to kick for good even with a residential drug recovery program which focuses on detox and rehabilitation away from all the daily distractions of life including family and friends.

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