America is having full-blown love affair with prescription painkillers. So much so that as of May 2012, Americans consume 80% of the world’s painkillers although we have only 5% of the world’s population. But we’re more worried about people using medical marijuana for pain, a medicine that doesn’t lead to addiction and has no history of fatal overdose.
- Sales of prescription painkillers to pharmacies and health care providers have increased by more than 300% since 1999.
- In 2009, the number of people killed by drug poisoning, driven largely by increases in painkiller abuse, surpassed motor vehicle fatalities for the first time.
- In 2010, more people aged 12 and older abused or were dependent on prescription painkillers than cocaine, heroin, stimulants, and sedatives combined.
- Deaths from prescription painkiller overdose in the U.S. have more than tripled between 1999 and 2008.
- In 2009, there were nearly 500,000 emergency room visits spurred by abuse of prescription painkillers.
- The annual cost to health insurers derived from the non-medical use of prescription painkillers is $72.5 billion.
- In 2010, 1 in every 20 people in the U.S. age 12 and older reported using prescription painkillers non-medically (i.e. About 12 million people, or more than the population of Ohio).