Drug Addictions: Over 300,000 Americans Depend on Pain Killers

May 22, 2014 6:35 PM
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Mary Jane

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Drug addictions can be a scary thing, but people tend to association this kind of addiction with people who have no self control or with drugs that are only hardcore, such as cocaine, heroin and even meth. However, many Americans are dealing with a much bigger problem it appears, as many Americans are starting to rely too heavily on pain medications to get through the day. Usually, people will be prescribed pills to get over an accident or incident, but they tend to get refills because they are addicted to them. Sadly, this addiction can be hard to overcome.

Drug Addictions: Over 300,000 Americans Depend on Pain Killers

According to a new report, drug addictions with pain killers are affecting more than 300,000 older American residents. Shockingly, this number has nearly tripled in the past decade. “What you see a lot of the time is they’re using them to treat chronic pain, to treat depression,” said Peter Eisler, USA Today’s reporter who has looked into this kind of addiction. The drugs used are narcotic painkillers, including such opiates as Percocet and Vicodin, and anti-anxiety medicines like Xanax and Valium. Shockingly, the prescriptions have gone up by 12 percent over the past five years, which shows that people are freely using them more now. For older people, there can be severe health complications. “So these drugs can increase your risk of falls, for example,” Eisler said. “When given in combination in certain doses, they can cause problems with depressing your respiratory function. So what you see is this rise in emergency room visits. We’re up to about 100,000 visits a year now among older people for misuse of prescription drugs.” But Eisler does have a theory as to why people are using the drugs. “It’s driven to some extent by ignorance,” he said. “Someone will come in. They’ll have chronic pain from arthritis. They’ll have a little bit of depression maybe related to aging, and they’ll be put on these drugs, and then they never get taken off. As time goes by, they develop a tolerance; they ask for a little bit more. So patients are requesting them and doctors are giving it to them.” Do you think there needs to be tighter rules regarding this?