HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The U.S. makes up five percent of the world’s population, but we consume 80 percent of the world’s supply of prescription opioid painkillers.
How did that happen?
“Between 1999 and 2010 in the U.S., there was a 300-percent increase in the number of prescriptions written for opioid painkillers,” Jack Carroll said.
Carroll has been the executive director of the Cumberland-Perry Drug and Alcohol Commission for more than two decades. In that time, the death rate from prescription opioid overdoses has quadrupled.
The epidemic is only getting worse, and society created it. In the 90s, pharmaceutical companies reformulated opioids and marketed them heavily as non-addictive. We now know that’s not true. We don’t know whether the pharmaceutical companies knew that all along.
At the same time, doctors and hospitals began prescribing them at a much higher rate. That’s because the government began mandating more aggressive treatment of pain – a perfect storm of bad decisions, the experts say.
So now what do we do?
“It is overwhelming,” Carroll said. “What we have come to recognize is that there isn’t a simple solution to it.”
If you know someone who’s struggling with addiction, The National Helpline Of Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration — 1-800-622-HELP (4357) — is staffed by trained professionals 24 hours a day, seven days a week.