There is no doubt whatsoever that drug and alcohol addiction has been a steadily increasing and expanding problem, all across the United States of America. No matter what, this issue just seems to get worse and worse as the years go by, with no clear sign or indication of it decreasing by any substantial amount any time soon.
Different problems have contributed to this overall epidemic, one of the biggest of which is prescription painkillers. Now, addiction has more than tripled in this country in the last two decades, making for terrible problems that link back to prescription drug abuse of one kind or another.
Prescription drug abuse has increased by five times since the turn of the century, bringing with it enormous problems. Now, prescription drug use and abuse are a major crisis that needs to be addressed. In fact, that doctors across the country are finally becoming hesitant to even prescribe such drugs.
Prescription Drugging and Doctors
Prescription painkillers are killing more Americans than any other single type of drug in the country. These are the ones to watch out for the most, and unfortunately, they are also the ones prescribed by doctors the most. Of the 22,400 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in the year of 2005, opioid prescription painkillers were the most commonly found drug of them all, accounting for about forty percent of the total deaths.
Now, nearly two percent of all U.S. opioid prescriptions are purchased by patients presumed to be “doctor shoppers.” That accounts for nearly 4.3 million prescriptions each year and 4 percent of all opioids by weight too actually. Doctor shopping is an ongoing problem in this country.
The Role of Heroin in the Drug Epidemic Hitting the US Today
The problem gets worse than that too. No less than three-quarters of heroin addicts used to take prescription drugs and switched to heroin instead, which is cheaper and more easily available on the black market too. In fact, a gram of pure heroin costs less than half what it did in the 1980s, and that’s with inflation induced into the problem. “This is a doctor-caused epidemic,” according to the CDC. In states with a higher prescription rate of opioid painkillers, such as Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana, the number of heroin addicts is much, much higher.
Prescription drug abuse in the nation is rampant, creating problem after problem and virtually becoming a medical epidemic. Enough painkillers were prescribed by American doctors during one month in 2010 to medicate every American around the clock for an entire month! The truth is, a majority of those who take prescription pain medicine for non-medical reasons get them free from a friend or relative, who got them from a doctor who was overprescribing them in the first place. In nearly 85 percent of those cases, the friend or relative obtained them from only one doctor. One in five users obtains prescriptions from one doctor, making the problem one of our own health system, not one of trafficking from other countries too.
Doctors are finally starting to get it, though, and some clinics are even hanging out their shingle as a “Drug-Free Clinic,” meaning that the clinic will administer medical attention to people, but it will not prescribe addictive drugs. This is the direction the nation needs to be heading in, and the sooner all doctors get on board with this route, the better.