At some point in your life, it is very likely you will require pain relief medication. While Advil and Motrin aren’t too dangerous by themselves, taking opioid pills for more than 3 days can be. In fact, it’s after this marker that people are most likely to become addicted to the drugs which are overproduced and highly prescribed. In this article, we will discuss the extent of the epidemic following the release of vital information by The Washington Post.
According to a new analysis of the newly revealed database, 76 billion is the number of opioid pills sold by just a handful of companies between 2006 and 2012. In the six-year span, the number of opioids on the market jumped by roughly 50-per cent from 8.4 billion in 2006 to 12.6 billion in 2012.
Six companies produced three-quarters of the pills that became available on the market: McKesson Corp., Walgreens, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, CVS and Walmart. The database was maintained by the DEA and it tracked the path of every single pill sold in the US. When the number of pills is compared to the number of people who have been taking them, the epidemic really comes into focus.
The states with the highest concentrations of pills per person follow:
West Virginia with 66.5
Kentucky with 63.3
South Carolina with 58
Tennessee with 57.7
Nevada with 54.7
(It is worth noting that West Virginia also had the highest opioid death rate during this period).
Certain rural areas have also been hit hard. Norton, Virginia, for instance, averaged 306 pills per person. Meanwhile, folks in Martinsville, Virginia, averaged 242 pills each and Perry County, Kentucky, approximately 175 pills each.
Why does this matter? Because in the six-year span, the six companies distributed enough pills to supply every adult and child in the United States with 36 pills each year. Considering opioid drugs are highly addictive and have a reputation of ruining lives, this issue deserves attention.
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The literature on the dangers and side effects of opioid is abundant. Still, to put the latest report into context, consider the following facts about opioid abuse and addiction. It’s more common than you might think:
Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.6
Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder.6
About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.7
Opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states.10
The Midwestern region saw opioid overdoses increase 70 percent from July 2016 through September 2017.10
Opioid overdoses in large cities increase by 54 percent in 16 states.10
The moral of the story is that pharmaceutical companies are making a profit by exploiting the average person’s pain and getting them hooked on highly addictive and dangerous substances. After surgery, stronger pain-relief medication may be necessary. But, for day-to-day chronic pain, holistic alternatives often times offer long-term relief with far fewer side effects.
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