Opioid painkillers such as Percocet, Oxycodone, codeine, Dilaudid, Vicodin, methadone, and morphine are highly addictive and often end up being abused by patients. However, they are also widely over-prescribed by MDs, who are highly incentivized by the pharmaceutical companies.
One only has to turn on the evening news these days to see the long-term effect of this over-prescription of opioid painkillers by the traditional medical establishment, with heroin addition, crime rates, drug-related violence, and overdoses soaring. It’s no wonder why the Centers for Disease Control classifies prescription drug and opioid abuse as a national epidemic, and The National Institute of Health calls the abuse of opioids a ‘silent epidemic.’
Today, we’re going to bring you 25 important facts and statistics about the prescription opioid painkiller epidemic, reinforcing why chiropractic care is such a critical first option for treatment:
1. According to data from The National Institute of Health, it’s estimated that between 5 and 8 million Americans regularly take opioid painkillers to manage long-term chronic pain.
2. Data from Drugabuse.gov reveals that 2.1 million Americans (almost 2%) suffer from substance abuse disorders stemming from prescription opioid pain relievers.
3. Between 1991 and 2013, the number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone skyrocketed from 76 million to 207 million, respectively. The United States accounted for nearly 100% of that total world growth for hydrocodone (Vicodin) and 81% of the growth for oxycodone (Percocet).
4. In 2012, Americans filled approximately 260 million prescriptions for opiate painkillers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s enough for every single American to have a bottle of pills.
5. When researchers analyzed data on prescriptions between 2009 and 2013, they found that at least 36 million people received at least one prescription for opioids.
6. According to DrugFree.org, one in ten high school seniors admit to abusing prescription painkillers. Prescription painkillers were also tied for first (with marijuana) as the drug with the highest rate of illicit use for first-time drug users.
7. 80% of all prescriptions for painkillers are written by only 20% of MDs.
8. Shockingly, about 60 percent of prescription opioid users also take them in conjunction with other medications, such as anti-anxiety medications, which can cause a fatal overdose when mixed.
9. In the decade leading up to 2012, deaths from prescription opioids more than doubled, to 16,000 every year.
10. In that same time, deaths from illegal heroin reached 6,000 per year, far less than legal opioids.
11. In only a four-year span, from 2004 to 2008, the number of emergency room visits for opioid abuse increased from 144,60 to 305,900, respectively.
12. Overdose deaths from legal prescription opioids have gone up at least 300 percent since 1990 and 400 hundred percent since 1999.
13. That rise in overdoses correlated exactly with a 300 percent increase in the sale of opioid painkillers since 1999.
14. In 2008, prescription pain pills killed more people than all of those who died from cocaine and heroin, combined.
15. By 2010, there were more than 160,000 hospitalizations for prescription opioid addictions every year.
16. And by 2012, more people ages 25 to 64 died from prescription drug overdoses than car accidents.
17. In 2013, 71 percent of overdoses from prescription drugs (16,325 deaths in all) were caused by opioid painkillers.
18. In 2014, about 46 Americans died every day from prescription painkiller overdoses.
19. Between 2001 and 2011, the number of admissions to treatment and rehab centers for nonmedical opioid abuse increased 500%, from 35,648 a year to 180,708 a year, respectively.
20. Of the patients who filled more than a 30-day supply of prescription opioid painkillers, about 50 percent of them were still taking them even three years later.
21. Since the peak of the epidemic in 2012, there are fewer people filling prescriptions for opioids, but filling them in greater volume and longer periods, an 8.4 percent increase.
22. Opioid use is actually highest among seniors, but adults between 22 and 44 fill larger volume prescriptions and for longer periods of time, indicating abuse.
23. Women fill opioid prescriptions at a 30% higher rate than men, but men take much higher doses and for longer amounts of time.
24. In 2015, 276,000 adolescents were regular nonmedical users of painkillers, with 122,000 classified as being addicted to these pain relievers.
25. It’s so hard to identify and prevent painkiller abuse because too often, people obtain them from a friend or family member who has a legal and warranted prescription. In fact, only 2.3% of those surveyed admit buying them from an illegal source outside of the medical/pharmaceutical realm.
Share these facts and statistics with your patients and your audience online as another compelling reason to stick with chiropractic treatment!