Opioids Potential Cause Behind Increase in Overdose Deaths in U.S.

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iStock_000018317756_LargeRESIZEA recent report published by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation revealed that drug overdoses cause more deaths in Pennsylvania than car accidents, a statistic shared by 35 other states.

Experts believe that the increase in opioid prescriptions and subsequent heroin abuse has contributed to the elevated numbers of overdose deaths in Pennsylvania, a trend also seen in nearby states like Ohio and West Virginia.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 44 people die from overdose of prescription painkillers in the United States every day. Often, prescription opioids are dispensed to individuals seeking pain relief from injury or disease, such as cancer. It has become increasingly common for these prescriptions to be used for day-to-day pains as well, such as arthritis or back pain.

The growing acceptance of painkillers in the medical community have made opioids commonplace in many households. And while painkillers provide necessary relief, some individuals become addicted to the pills, and find themselves turning to drugs like heroin to find the same rush once their legal prescriptions run out.

A lack of oversight in some states makes it easy for individuals to receive multiple prescriptions for painkillers from multiple doctors, allowing them to hoard the drugs for their own use or sell them to others.

According to a recent medical study, the middle-class, suburban demographic is rapidly becoming one of the most common types of heroin users, defying the stereotype that heroin use is largely confined to urban areas.

Some estimates suggest that approximately 3 million people are currently addicted to painkillers or heroin, and according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the United States, which accounts for 5% of the world’s population, uses 75% of the world’s prescription drugs.

Resources
Drug overdoses surpass car accident deaths in Pennsylvania – The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Report: Drug overdose death rates increase in 26 states – USA TODAY
U.S. Painkiller Abuse ‘Epidemic’ May Be Declining But Some People Have Switched to Heroin – WebMD News from HealthDay
Popping Pills: Prescription Drug Abuse in America – National Institute on Drug Abuse
Injury Prevention & Control: Prescription Drug Overdose – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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