In the past ten years prescription painkiller lethal overdoes have tripled and the United States is facing and epidemic. Lethal overdoses from painkillers are now accounting for more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined. On the market today, there is such a high quantity of painkillers that there is enough for every one in the United States to swallow a standard dose of Vocodin. That standard dose would be every four hours for a full thirty days. It may be an epidemic but they feel it can be stopped.
The burden of these dangerous drugs is being created not by the drug pushers on the street corners but by a few irresponsible doctors. The report comes from the Centers for Disease Control Vital Signs and focuses mainly on opioid pain relievers. These types of pain relievers include methadone, hydrocodone or Vicodin, and oxycodone. The sales of this painkiller to hospitals, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies have quadrupled since 1999.
In 2010, there were at least twelve million people in the United States who were taking prescription painkillers. They were not taking them because of a medical condition but for recreational use. In 1999, there were four thousand deaths and by 2008 there were fourteen thousand eight hundred deaths from overdoses of these particular painkillers. The death rate is the highest among Alaska natives, American Indians, and middle-age white men between the ages of thirty-five and fifty-four. The severity of the problem varies between the states.