The US is still in the midst of an opiate epidemic. Every day in America, roughly 50 people die from overdosing on prescription painkillers. The number of yearly overdoses continues to climb year after year. Even though the number is high, many people are still unaware of how bad this issue is. Here are some scary statistics on prescription opioid abuse that you may not know.
Prescription Opioid Abuse Often Leads to Heroin Abuse
A recent survey found that 3 out of 4 heroin addicts were introduced to opioids from prescription painkillers. This is a scary fact since heroin is one of the most dangerous drugs. Deaths from heroin have tripled since 2010, and take twice the number of lives each year from overdose.
Many heroin addicts began their addiction from legitimate means. They were prescribed painkillers after an accident or surgery, and then got hooked. In an effort to reduce addiction, a few years ago it became harder to get prescription opiates. Instead of stopping addiction, people turned to heroin, which was cheaper and easier to come by while providing a stronger high.
The Southeast US has the Highest Rates of Painkiller Prescriptions
During the 1980s and 1990s, pharmaceutical companies heavily marketed their opioid painkillers to blue collar workers in the Appalachia. Pill mills began popping up to cash in on the demand in these areas. Mass production of painkillers led to addiction in states such as Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Alabama.
States in the southeast continue to rank highest for painkiller prescriptions written per capital. They also rank the highest in deaths due to drug overdoses, with West Virginia ranking the highest.
Addiction is Exploding in Rural Areas
Historically, drug use and addiction were concentrated in urban areas. However, shockingly that is now reversed. Rural areas of the US are now pulling ahead with higher rates of prescription opioid overdoses in the country. Rural teens are particularly at risk, with 8.6% of rural teens reporting opiate abuse compared to only 6.5% of urban teens.
Prescription Opiate Abuse is Costly
You may think that with more people buying drugs from pharmaceuticals the economy would do better. In fact, America loses billions of dollars every year due to opiate abuse and overdoes. It’s been estimated that the US loses 55 billion dollars a year in premature deaths, healthcare costs, and criminal justice costs.