Painkiller Abuse Responsible for Health, Economic Consequences

opoidoverdosedeathsPrescription pain medications are highly effective when used as directed. However, opioid painkiller abuse by patients and people other than those for whom the drugs were prescribed is a growing problem in many parts of the US. It can lead to a number of problems, including addiction, overdose, depression and lost productivity at work.

Opioid painkillers are used to treat moderate to severe pain, such as that experienced by a patient after surgery or for patients living with chronic pain that cannot be relieved sufficiently with other medications. These medications include drugs such as Percocet, Vicodin and Oxycontin.

• Prescription painkiller abuse is an issue because access to the pain medications is relatively easy. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that sales of prescription opioid drugs “nearly quadrupled” in the years 1999-2014; however, there has not been a major change in the amount of pain that patients reported during the same period. Over half of people who used an opioid for a non-medical purpose were given the drug from a friend or a relative for free.

• Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. In 2014, 47,055 people lost their lives in this manner(CDC). Opioids were responsible for 18,893 of these deaths.

• The results of a study conducted at St. Louis University have found that overusing opioid painkillers for an extended period of time will put users at a risk for depression. Patients who took opioids for 180 days or longer had a 53 percent increased risk of having a new episode of depression, and those who took the medication for 90-180 days were at a 25 percent higher risk compared to patients who took opioids for less than 90 days.

• Most people don’t consider the economic consequences of opioid painkiller abuse on the economy, but it is significant. CNBC reports that as more people become involved in opioid abuse, the annual impact on the US economy is upward of $60 billion, and half of that figure can be attributed to workplace costs like lost productivity. The CDC says that non-medical use of prescription painkillers costs health insurance companies close to $72.5 billion in direct health care costs each year.

If you know someone who is using opioid painkillers for non medical purposes, contact us today to find the right drug treatment center.