(NaturalNews) In a nation that seems to thrive on popping pills for a range of different health woes, it really should come as no surprise that deaths due to the overdosing of prescription drugs are on the rise in the United States, and will likely to continue to be so. Though there is a definite need for a number of these prescription drugs, and they provide relief from pain, infections and a host of other uncomfortable ailments, history is starting to tell the story of how these medically prescribed medications can be abused by patients. Many physicians, too, simply write a prescription as a cure-all for their patients rather than spend the time and make the effort to get to the root cause of the issue.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released some sobering and chilling statistics. More than 36,000 people across the country died in 2008 as the result of overdosing on various prescription drugs. In fact, these deaths have more than tripled in number since 1990, and they show no signs of abating. Each day, 100 people in the United States die from drug overdoses.
Painkillers are the main killers
As the CDC notes, there are a number of prescription drugs that are abused by people who live in the United States. By far, though, there is a growing epidemic that involves painkillers. Studies show that out of every four death that occurred as the result of prescription drugs, three of them are the result of painkillers.
Also known as opioid pain relievers, this class of drugs is solely responsible for the 300% increase in drug-related deaths that has occurred since 1999. In 2008 alone, pain killers were the cause of nearly 15,000 overdose deaths. This figure is more than both heroin and cocaine combined.
Deaths are not the only result of such overdoses. In 2009, more than 475,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms occurred as the result of people overdosing on prescription drugs. This figure represents a number that almost doubled in five years.
A study in 2010 revealed that over 12 million people in the United States used painkillers on a non-medical basis. These are drugs that are supposed to be available only by prescription from a licensed doctor. However, the study participants indicated that either they were using these drugs without having a valid prescription or they were using them simply because they wanted to experience the feelings they evoke.
In many cases, those people who abuse prescription painkillers are also using other drugs. These vary from drugs that are legal, such as alcohol, to those that are illegal, such as cocaine, benzodiazepines or heroin. In around 50% of these overdose deaths, the person is also taking another drug. Alcohol is often the second drug involved.
About the author: Sofiya has written articles on most health-related topics, including traditional medicine, alternative and naturopathic and natural treatments, wellness, medical marijuana, diets and fitness.