Opioid addiction is a very serious matter in the United States, as more than one-fourth of all Americans are either addicted to opiate painkillers or they are very close to someone who is addicted. This represents more than 66 million American adults. The statistic was released by the non-profit healthcare organization Kaiser Family Foundation.
In 2012, doctors wrote more than 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medications. This is enough to supply every single adult in the country with the drugs, while still having millions left over. In the near future, drug overdoses are expected to pass car crashes as a leading cause of accidental death for adults in the United States.
In conducting research, the Kaiser Family Foundation interviewed a total of 1,352 respondents nationwide over the phone. The poll had a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. The findings showed that 27% of all American adults are either addicted to opiates or close to someone who is addicted.
Additionally, more than half of all respondents stated that they at least knew someone who has misused painkillers, became addicted to opiates or died from an opioid drug overdose. Most people affected by the opioid addiction crisis are white, college-educated, younger males with a higher-income.
Furthermore, 16% of respondents said that they knew someone who died because of an opiate drug addiction. More than half of the deceased were a family member or a close friend of the respondent.
In recent years, prescription drug addiction and an associated heroin epidemic have proven to be a stubborn public health crisis. Painkiller abuse has been increasing every year for more than a decade. Currently, government officials have been trying to figure out ways to reverse the trend.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, most people support new policy solutions, such as drug treatment, tighter scrutiny of doctors and laws that prevent drug users from being charged if they request help for a drug overdose.
Something certainly needs to be done, and soon.