Prescription Painkiller Crisis: Why Do Americans Consume 80 Percent Of All Prescription Painkillers?

 By Michael Snyder, on March 14th, 2016

Pills Prescription Painkillers - Public DomainIf Americans are so happy, then why do we consume 80 percent of the entire global supply of prescription painkillers?  Less than 5 percent of the world’s population lives in this country, and yet we buy four-fifths of these highly addictive drugs.  In the United States today, approximately 4.7 million Americans are addicted to prescription pain relievers, and that represents about a 300 percent increase since 1999.  If you personally know someone that is suffering from this addiction, then you probably already know how immensely destructive these drugs can be.  Someone that was formally living a very healthy and normal life can be reduced to a total basket case within a matter of weeks.

And of course many don’t make it back at all.  According to the CDC, more than 28,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2014.  Incredibly, those deaths represented 60 percent of all drug overdose deaths in the United States for that year

A report released by the US Centers for Disesase Control and Prevention (CDC) in January revealed that drug-overdose deaths reached a new high in 2014, totaling 47,055 people. Opioids, a type of powerful painkiller that requires a prescription, were involved in 60% of those deaths.

Many Americans that start out on legal opioids quickly find themselves moving over to heroin because it is often cheaper and easier to obtain, and the U.S. is now facing a tremendous epidemic of heroin abuse as well.  In fact, the number of Americans that die of a heroin overdose nearly quadrupled between 2000 to 2013.

Finally, the federal government has started to take notice of this crisis.  A bill was recently passed to spend more than a billion dollars over the next two year fighting this problem.

But as long as doctors are writing thousands upon thousands of new prescriptions for these painkillers each year, this crisis is not going to go away any time soon.

In the Appalachians, these prescription painkillers are commonly known as “hillbilly heroin“, and all of the attention that the New Hampshire primaries received focused a lot of attention on how this crisis is destroying countless numbers of lives up in the Northeast.  But one survey found that the states with the biggest problems with painkiller addiction are actually in the West

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