a significant positive effect on the lives of those in pain. For example, the pain after surgery would likely be intolerable in many cases if not for prescription painkillers. And for individuals who struggle with chronic pain, following a proper schedule of painkillers can allow daily functions where they might otherwise be impossible.
Nevertheless, many prescription painkillers are highly addictive, and can prove fatal when taken at too high a dosage or alongside other substances, including alcohol. The CDC has stated that nearly 19,000 Americans were killed by opioid painkillers in 2014 — which is over 3,000 more people than had been murdered that year.
However, the American appetite for painkillers grows more insatiable with each passing year. A study released in 2008 suggested that Americans are responsible for consumption of roughly 80% of the worldwide opioid supply, and an impressive 99% of the global supply of the popular prescription painkiller hydrocodone.
According to a recent investigation performed by the Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity, pharmaceutical companies have engaged in intense lobbying in order to ensure painkillers remain slightly regulated and extremely available. Pro-painkiller groups spend two hundred times as much on lobbying as those groups that support tightening restrictions.
Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies have been caught breaking the law in the name of promoting their product: in one example, Insys Therapeutics employees plead guilty to engaging in kickback schemes in conjunction with sales of the elephant tranquilizer fentanyl.
The most recent data out of SAMHSA reveal that painkiller abuse continues to be a devastatingly widespread epidemic despite recent efforts by the federal government to curb use by tightening restrictions. However, it is difficult to determine whether or not painkiller usage has risen or fallen in the United States during the last year, since SAMHSA only recently added applicable additional questions to their annual survey.
Be sure and bookmark Addiction Now for updates on American painkiller usage, and all of your up-to-the-minute drug-related news.