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

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If 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

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a survey of approximately 67,500 people across the United States, found that the states with the highest rates of narcotic painkiller abuse were in the West – Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.

Unless you are about to die, I would very strongly recommend that you resist any attempt by your doctor to put you on these “medications”. Just consider what happened to one stay-at-home mother named Norah Mangan

I am an educated, suburban wife and stay-at-home mother of four. Life had been good to me until a fateful visit with an orthopedic physician, my chief complaint being mild arthritic pain in my toes. My physician handed me the first of many monthly prescriptions for Oxycodone and what followed that appointment was a rapid descent into hell. Within six months, I had become a raving drug addict.

Before too long, Norah had to turn to means that were less than legal in order to keep fueling her addiction. Her life was turned into a complete and utter disaster by drugs that were legally prescribed to her…

It wasn’t long before my legal monthly prescription fell woefully short in terms of keeping my life altering pain at bay. In the interest of not incriminating myself, I’ll simply share that when procured through other means, Oxycodone generally sells for one dollar per milligram. I was draining our savings and was out of my mind. I was so tortured that I didn’t care about the deterioration of my moral values, in fact, I didn’t even notice. It’s hard to imagine that in such a short period of time I had morphed from a Mrs. Cleaver, baking hot cinnamon buns in anticipation of my children’s arrival home from school, to Scarface crushing pills on the glass top of the executive desk in our home office while thinking to myself as I heard them arrive from school…why oh why are they home already?

You can read the rest of her amazing story right here

The truth is that we are the most drugged people on the face of the planet. It has been estimated that 52 million Americans over the age of 12 have used prescription drugs in non-medical ways, and this problem gets worse with each passing year.

According to research that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 59 percent of all U.S. adults are currently on at least one prescription drug, and 15 percent of all U.S. adults are on at least five prescription drugs. And the numbers are far worse for older Americans. The following statistics come from one of my previous articles

According to the CDC, approximately 9 out of every 10 Americans that are at least 60 years old say that they have taken at least one prescription drug within the last month.

There is an unintentional drug overdose death in the United States every 19 minutes.

In the United States today, prescription painkillers kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.

According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.

The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.

Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants as children in Europe are.

A shocking Government Accountability Office report discovered that approximately one-third of all foster children in the United States are on at least one psychiatric drug.

A survey conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that more than 15 percent of all U.S. high school seniors abuse prescription drugs.

We are a deeply unhappy nation that has been trained to turn to pills as a “quick fix” for our hurt and our pain.

Yes, there are medical situations that call for prescription pain relievers. But what we are seeing in America today goes far, far beyond that. We are a nation of addicts that is always in search of a way to fill the gaping holes that we feel deep in our hearts. This prescription pain killer crisis is just another symptom of a much deeper problem.

So what is the solution?

Please feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

4 thoughts on “Prescription Painkiller Crisis: Why Do Americans Consume 80 Percent Of All Prescription Painkillers?”

    • I have one of the most painful conditions in the world but I’m a normal human being I have a job and a life now thanks to my medication and nope I’m not a “basket case”. But PRIOR to being placed on a proper medication for my immense pain I was skin and bones unable to eat or function and at deaths door. I have a life and a healthy weight and I thank my doctor for having the sense to prescribe me something you call America’s crack. Shame on you and anyone labeling any medication as “evil” why not talk about people that abuse Xanax and Adderall? People take that like candy. So wheres all the statistics and hype about psychological medications? There’s always going to be addiction but that isn’t a reason to make those with ligitimite need for these medications to suffer. People like you are the reason people with cancer and other horrible painful diseases suffer and feel like the devil for taking their medication. Did you know that those that become addicted have an ADDICTIVE PERSONALITY AND HISTORY OF ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOR IN THEIR FAMILY?
      Get your facts straight before you make people literally dying and suffering feel like junkies for properly taking their medication. People like me are respected people of society that aren’t abusing our medication. We respect our physicians and realize the dangers of all medications and take them as prescribed. We don’t shoot up our medication or over take them or any such thing. It’s the disgusting dramatization and over prescribing hillbilly physicians that make these medications look like crack. I am so sick of people that never had real pain and never had to actually question if life was worth living anymore because their pain kept them from even sipping water or standing up or taking a deep breath. Things all of you ignorant idiots for granted–let’s see you live JUST a day not even a yesr or decade ie a lifetime, just a measly day–live a day with REAL PAIN AND SUFFERING AND KNOWING YOUR TIME IS LIMITED, then you come back and tell me if pain medication is the devil. You bunch of ignorant bastards would cry like babies suffering for a minute in the hell I was in and my poor father was in and suffered for A DAMN DECADE AND A HALF. People like you are why my father suffered for years in agony because our pharmacy wouldn’t fill a few pills for him to be able to eat even a piece if bread without vomiting from pain and the same ignorant assholes that kept me skin and bones saying I was drug seeking even thkigh my parentd were by my side begging for helo because I inherited the same condition my father has and I suffered a decade more and yes to the point I didn’t want to wake up anymore. But the day I was given a small pill I didn’t even know what it was because it didn’t matter. What mattered was I was able to eat and function without being in such hell. I’m now a licensed professional and help others and if I didn’t have a doctor to care about my pain if have lost my life and so would’ve my father. So to all of you that make pain medicatiob the devil. I can’t wait until karma let’s you suffer and see what it’s like to live with pain and no relief. Karma always wins.

  1. Great job, Michael! Kudos! I find your writing to be accurate and factual.
    From a personal observation, I believe addiction to be caused by both, over prescribed by doctors, and over used (abused) by the patient.
    The “rule” for prescription requires a designated dose, a designated number of times daily. One is rarely allowed to self medicate “as needed”.
    This guarantees physical addiction.
    Mine started from a bad auto accident which resulted in multiple breaks and fractures of my spine, a crushed hip, a cracked pelvis, three way split from hip to knee of right femor, 11 broken ribs, and fractured tibia.
    I was given morphine and percocet to relieve the pain. After three weeks I was released from the hospital and sent home with no prescription.
    I managed to suffer through most of the pains, but some days were terrible. After a couple of months of this I decided to contact my doctor about an “occasional” pain reliever. One I could self administer on those “bad days”, explaining ” I don’t need them often, but some days are insufferable “. Immediately, he insisted I was addicted because of the painkillers administered during my hospital stay and prescribed 325m percocet, to be taken 3 times daily. I tried to explain, I didn’t need anything either that strong or that often. He made it very clear, if I didn’t follow the prescription, he would cancel it. He also explained, I would be checked on follow up visits, and if it wasn’t found in my bloodstream it would be cancelled. I told him I would comply and received a “script” for 75, 325m Percocet per month. An addicts dream.
    I only took 3 or 4 of these per week. I didn’t NEED more than that, so I didn’t take them. For the next several months, the bottles of pills just piled up in a desk drawer. I would take one the night before an appointment, tell him all was well, and pick up my prescription. After a year of this, I told him I didn’t need them anymore and he literally had a FIT. He told me “if you aren’t going to follow my directions, DONT COME BACK.
    That was almost 5years ago and I still have 5 bottles left.
    I sometimes go 3 or 4 weeks without a pill, but occasionally I over exert myself while trying to have a life and do resort to a pain pill.
    I walk with a cane now, no more wheelchair or walker. My back and hip pain is within tolerance on most days, and I find myself less and less inclined to the use of medication.
    There is no question in my mind, if I had followed doctors instruction, I WOULD be an addict.
    A thing to recognise is this: The human body is an amazing machine. The human mind is even more amazing. Drugs have their place in healing the body but, NEVER allow someone else (or any drug) to dictate the needs of your body. The brain (if used) can be trained to overcome most physical pains.
    Yes, there ARE exceptions, but…
    USE YOUR BRAINS. Set your own goals, and test your limitations. You’ll find most of your limitations are set within your own mind. Exceed them.
    Don’t just live your life,
    LOVE YOUR LIFE.

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