Deaths from prescription narcotic painkillers soared as the opioid based drugs became more popular and powerful, a new federal study found.
Four out of five people who used a prescription narcotic painkiller in 2011 to 2012 took pills equal to or stronger than morphine, according to statistics made public Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control National Center for Health Statistics. The percentage of people who took painkillers stronger than morphine, which include such drugs as Fentanyl, hydromorphone, methadone and oxycodone, grew from 17% in 1999 to 37% in 2012, the study found.
Use of narcotic painkillers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, has also grown. In 1999, 5% of adults 20 and older reported using a narcotic painkiller. Four years later, that number grew to 7%, where it has remained, Sales of the drugs quadrupled between 1999 and 2010, the report said.
The CDC has called prescription painkiller abuse an epidemic. In 2012, 16,007 people died from overdoses involving opioid painkillers, triple the number who died in 1999, a 5% decrease from 2011 when 16,917 people died, the CDC reported last year.
In September, Attorney General Eric Holder expanded a prescription drug return program that allows hospitals and pharmacies to accept excess drugs, including narcotic painkillers. Last year, the government also placed new restrictions on medicines that contain the highly addictive painkiller hydrocodone, such as Vicodin and Lortab, which limited patients to a 90-day supply per prescription.
Popularity of painkillers is not a good thing for the public. People who had legit pain were feeling much better and were able to manage their lives in ways they were never able to. But at the same time, it opened the door to a very dangerous addictive movement.
Opiates work on brain chemicals to alleviate pain but if there is no pain present or you take more than is necessary to mask the pain, the body is overcome with euphoria. For some that feeling takes away many other issues they are dealing with, such as depression, anxiety or lack of energy. Many users like the way the medication makes them feel and before many realize it, they are developing an addiction for the medication that far outweighs their need for their actual ailments.
It is not as if the American public has more pain than it used to. I believe many factors played into the perfect storm scenario of the over-prescribing of prescription painkillers. The drugs are worth a fortune on the black market and greed plays a roll. The amount of these medications and different pharmaceutical companies producing these pills keeps increasing and the competition is fierce. Many good doctors are being taken advantage of by patients that want these expensive pills to either abuse or resell. Hydrocodone known most famously by the name brand Vicodin is the most prescribed medication in the country. The damage continues taking countless numbers of lives and families with them. We have become a painkiller nation and it is destroying lives around the country. If you or someone you know has a pill problem, please seek professional medical attention before it's too late.