Why is America Addicted to Opioid Pain Relievers?

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Opioid medications, sometimes known as pain relievers, are the most widely prescribed class of drugs worldwide. While the United States represents about five percent of the world’s population, it consumes 80 percent of the global opioid supply. Not surprisingly, the U.S. is also suffering from the most severe opioid addiction and overdose crisis it has ever experienced. But, this didn’t happen overnight. Several factors contributed to the unprecedented use – and misuse – of opioids in this country. A Dramatic Increase In The Supply Of Prescription Pain Relievers In 1998, state medical boards changed the laws governing opioid prescriptions. Instead of limiting the use of opioids to treat severe cancer-related pain – which had consistently been the case before – they began allowing the prescription of opioids to treat moderate, non-cancer pain. This meant that people with back injuries, broken bones, toothaches and other ailments could now receive powerful opioids,...
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More Older Adults Becoming Addicted to Opioid Painkillers

More Older Adults Becoming Addicted to Opioid Painkillers
A growing number of older adults are becoming addicted to opioid painkillers, The New York Times reports. They are using the pills to deal with the aches and pains of aging and the anxiety that can come with retirement. “They’ve built a fortress around themselves,” said Joseph Garbely, Medical Director of Caron Treatment Centers. “Their resources allow them to advance in their addiction without detection. So the addiction progresses.” He notes that signs of addiction such as confusion, shaky hands and mood swings are often thought to be symptoms of aging. It can be difficult to detox older adults from prescription drugs, Dr. Garbely said. “They have to be monitored and slowly withdrawn. Opioid withdrawal won’t kill you, but you’ll wish you were dead.” After a lifetime of achievement, the loss of self-worth that may come with retirement may spark an addiction, said Brenda J. Iliff, Executive Director of Hazelden...
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44% of Americans Know Someone Who Has Been Addicted to Prescription Painkillers

44% of Americans Know Someone Who Has Been Addicted to Prescription Painkillers
A new national poll finds 44 percent of Americans say they personally know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers, CNBC reports. Of these people, 26 percent said the person they knew was an acquaintance, while 21 percent said it was a close friend and 20 percent said it was a family member. Two percent said they had been addicted to painkillers themselves. The poll, released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found 58 percent of respondents said they believe lack of access to addiction treatment is a major problem. Among people who know someone addicted to painkillers, 61 percent said they were concerned about lack of treatment. People view heroin as a more serious problem than prescription painkillers, even though far fewer people die from heroin overdoses than from prescription opioids, the article notes. The poll found 35 percent of people view heroin abuse as an extremely serious problem,...
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