An American Epidemic


Recently I was watching a news channel when a segment came on about the opioid epidemic in America.

In this segment, the owner of a company explained that she cannot fill positions because of this epidemic.

She stated that at least four out of 10 applicants test positive for drug use. (Wow) 

She said that her employees must run huge machines, and she cannot afford to hire people who might harm someone else while under the influence of drugs.
This got me curious, so I did a bit of research to see how this epidemic came about. 

The opioid crisis likely began with the over-prescription of powerful opioid pain relievers in the 1990s. 

As of 2016 more than 289 million prescriptions were written for opioid drugs per year. 

Among the most common opioids prescribed have been oxycodone (Oxycontin and Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin).

Fast forward to 2017. About 2 million Americans are abusing prescription opioids, representing about one out of three opioid prescriptions, according to one study.
The opioid crisis has hit many communities hard, leading to higher health care spending and personal tragedies. 

Sobering statistics, certainly.

Do you have a loved one struggling with opioid addiction?


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35 comments

  1. I see we (Canada) are right behind you in opioid use. It seems to be daily in the news. Very frightening.

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    1. Yes, I noticed that. Scary stuff, isn't it? I feel so bad for those who become addicted and for their loved ones who must stand by in their own pain.

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  2. The opioid crisis just doesn't exist in France. I think it's partly because doctors prescribe more physical therapy and non-pharmaceutical ways to treat pain, and people have more job security (it's very hard to fire somebody), so they can take the time off to get well or do therapy. Also, drug prices are set by the government, and it's less profitable for the pharma companies. And a national health system means that you can't go to another doctor for another prescription--any doctor or pharmacy would see in the computer system that you just got one. (To see the doctor or to fill a prescription, you present your national health card. A doctor visit, BTW, costs €23, but €15.33 gets reimbursed, so you pay €7.66 out of pocket.)
    So people don't get hooked the way they have in the U.S., by using, then abusing prescriptions and then turning to illegal alternatives. Of course, there are people who abuse drugs here, but the scale is far smaller.

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    1. Obviously your country is way ahead of ours. Unfortunately.

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  3. Thank you for posting about this epidemic, Brenda. Unfortunately, I am all too aware of these statistics because I read about this subject continually since my oldest son died from an OD in 2009. Did you know that drug OD is now the leading cause of death in the US in adults under the age of 50? When I was prescribed Norco after my knee surgery in March, I only took it for 3 days. I was prescribed enough for about 3 weeks. Crazy. I know some doctors are being very careful with the over-prescribing now. A friend of mine as well as a friend's son became addicted to prescription painkillers after surgery. Thank goodness, with a lot of help, they were able to overcome their addiction.

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    1. I always think of you and your family losing your precious son. This is such a scary disease. And since that's what it is, none of us should be judge and jury.

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    2. I'm glad to hear some doctors cutting back prescriptions. After my mom's surgery, they told her to take pain meds as needed 3x per day for no more than 4 days - and then handed her a script for 50 pills! When I questioned (it was the discharge nurse) she said "Just have them fill half." Seems so preventable :( Also worth mentioning that the prescription opiod crisis directly related to the rise of heroin use.

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  4. I personally know 2 young men (they don't know each other and live in different parts of the country) who started opioid addiction from legit illnesses. 1 has Crohn's Disease, the other a hurt back. The addiction starts, doctors start tapering off prescriptions, so they then turn to street drugs which apparently are very easy to find. When they can't afford the oxy on the street they move to heroin. Apparently it is cheaper and easier to find. One then moved on to meth as it is even cheaper. His mother actually sat down and wrote out his funeral plans as she was convinced after 3 arrests and forced rehabs he wouldn't come out of it alive.

    Thankfully, after long journeys of almost ten years, both young men are now clean and sober.

    I live in a state where marijuana is legal and there is a lot of research in CBD oil. CBD is the oil of the plant that does not make you high. (That's THC) My doctor says as soon as CBD can be consistently produced it is his intention to never prescribe another opioid if possible. He strongly thinks that this situation has been caused by doctors, even the most well intentioned.

    It is a devastating addiction. And it's everywhere and so very sad.

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    1. I just can't imagine having to hit the street because of becoming addicted to something the doctor gave you, but then the addiction takes over. I feel so bad for those individuals. Needs to be more done.

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  5. thankfully I have a very high pain threshold. so unless I was given them just after major surgeries in the hospital without realizing it ~
    I have never taken anything for pain.
    if those suffering from chronic pain take them I can imagine how sad that must be. I had a neighbor once who apparently took them. she often walked around in kind of a zombie like state. and when she drove I just held my breath.
    once she drove right under a semi truck! that's the danger of it all. it not only affects themselves but other innocent people.

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    1. I take something for pain when I absolutely have to. But this is a disease, I understand. So it affects the whole family.

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  6. No I don't know anyone with this addiction but my husband was given oxycodone after surgery, he couldn't stand the side effects so he stopped taking it, and so he wonders how anyone could become addicted to it.

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    1. When I've had to take hydrocodone, I have felt the same way. Too many side effects. But I certainly know how quickly addicted a person can become.

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  7. I am so glad that you pointed out this important agenda. It is so sad that this has happened. What is going to happen when the government decides to drug test people on food stamps and other government benefits? People can't get a job (or even want a job) because of drug testing, thus we are going to be a society of people homeless, jobless, and hungry. (sp) As if we don't already have enough of that. It is so sad. Something definitely needs to be done.

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  8. As usual, the worst case scenario gets the most ink/air. What about the numbers of people who (1) need the drugs to have some chance at a "normal" life and (2) don't abuse them? I am one of the unreported. I'm not saying there's not a problem with the drugs being over-used and over-prescribed. I just feel that it isn't the entire story.

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    1. I guess you're right But I gave it the ink because I thought it was good info. I sure understand the need to have drugs to live a normal life. I've taken antidepressants since I was 26 and I'm 60. I have hydrocodone in my medicine cabinet for pain. I just try not to use it any more than I have to. But those with intense chronic pain, I do feel for you.

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  9. I have a close family member who takes Oxycodone for the side effect (sp) of constipation. He had his colon removed and a pouch rebuilt out of intestine. Without the oxy he has chronic diarrhea and can't get two feet away from a bathroom. He was concerned about becoming addicted and his doctor told him he would need to take it the rest of his life. If he became addicted then he would never forget to take it. He never forgets. He could not have a normal life without it. He also takes over-the-counter meds for diarrhea as well and with all of them, the problem is just barely controlled. He is also a type 1 diabetic and if he eats to control the diabetes it aggravates the ulcerative colitis and visa versa.

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    1. Oh my, feel for him. Hopefully the doctor will make sure he gets what he needs.

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  10. I think doctors should take time to offer other alternatives. I couldn't believe how many were prescribes for my hubby after his Total Hip Replacement. We threw out out 50 pills! I have chronic pain with Lupus, but I choose to exercise (Yoga and walking), eat a balanced diet, and get rest...alternatives with no addictions!

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  11. Have you noticed most of the advertising on TV is for prescription drugs!?!!? I've been "lucky"; I'm allergic to all opioids. (They make me throw-up my toenails!) Thank you for giving space to this national problem.

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    1. Pain is very hard to deal with, especially those with chronic and debilitating pain. But becoming addicted to these drugs is something no one can foretell.

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  12. I think a lot of the issues with addiction stem from disregard of the American worker. I know in France an injured worker is given ample time to recover without fear of loss of employment.
    Here, I have had two associates who have suffered serious injuries requiring surgery and were threatened with loss of employment even though the time prescribed by their doctor for full recovery was 3 weeks to one month longer. So what did they do? Druged up and tried to act normal.We could have easily gotten an equally trained and competent temp from an agency. But no, the hunger for money was too great by our employer. Both women were re-injured and filed complaints in the state. Both retained their jobs after much making nice and back peddling by our employer with the state on their backs.
    I had dental implant work done and was given Vicodin for home use. Just one pill made my head spin so badly that it felt as if I was going to fall out of bed whilst laying down. And nausea, oh my gosh, the nausea! Good old low dose Motrin for me.

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    1. I think this is an important thing to consider. But I know that those who become addicted are not wanting to become addicted. It is a disease and should be treated as such.

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  13. My brother used pain meds before he died. He didn't have a prescription so he bought them off drug dealers. He was in such pain but he couldn't manage pain meds without abusing them. It was sad to see.

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    1. That's such a terrible shame. We need to get this figured out in the US. Addiction is a disease, and we should not shut people down and then have them have to go to great lengths because they become addicted. It is not their fault.

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  14. Tens of millions of alcoholics in this country, ruining families, killing people by driving drunk, causing lord only knows how much child abuse and spousal beatings, but no one thinks we should curtail alcohol sales. And this for something that isn't even necessary. No one needs alcohol for medical reasons.







    But they want to try and restrict opiods, despite the fact that many people do need pain meds. I have had Trigeminal neuralgia most of my adult life. The pain can literally blind me for days at a time.

    But because some people OD, I will be punished and treated like a criminal. I will have to jump through hoops to get my meds; my regular doctor has already been told his group has decided they will no longer prescribe pain medicine (they fear lawsuits), so I will need to go to a pain clinic, and have to be constantly drug tested and shamed.


    Addiction is addiction. It's a disease unto itself. Prohibition didn't work, and neither will restricting this particular addictive substance. Addicts will get what they need somehow, they always do.

    And holier-than-thou, sanctimonious people who don't happen to need pain meds will feel very righteous and smug that they "spoke up" about an issue they have no real understanding of.

    In the meantime, people with chronic pain will suffer in silence.

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    1. I hate alcohol. I was married to an alcoholic. I wrote about this because I thought the info was important. Not that I want people who need these pain meds to go without. I certainly would not want that.

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    2. Well said, Ian's girl. My husband is in the same boat and has seen a pain management doctor for years. You name it, he has tried it. Acupuncture, physical therapy, massage therapy, etc. No help. He has been seen by a surgeon that works with professional football players and was told surgery wouldn't help and could make it worse. He does not abuse pain meds. Taking pain meds does not equal addiction.

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  15. Yes, the same drugs that can be of great benefit to some are abused by others. In my state of Kentucky, opioid abuse, and abuse of other drugs, is a serious problem. A few years ago, legislation was passed to crack down on pain clinics that dispensed many prescriptions to the same user, and make it harder for the user to go to different clinics. But a result was that a lot of users switched from prescription drugs to heroin. It's just about impossible to live in this part of the country and not have a relative or a friend whose family has been affected in some way by drug abuse. I have some cousins who've spent time in prison for drug use, one for heroin, one for prescription drugs. I met a man recently whose son died a few months ago from taking a combination of cocaine and Xanax. A tragedy to be sure.

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    1. It is terribly sad. For the patient and the family.

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  16. A frightening and sad epidemic. And unfortunately I read that Oklahoma is ranked the No. 1 state in prescription painkiller abuse .... killing even more Oklahomans than vehicular accidents. Hopefully with all the media coverage, all states will unite to find s solution. Praying that happens.

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  17. I agree that the fact that opoid addiction has become so widespread is a sad, sad situation in this country. I wonder what it would take to change it. There are alternatives to drugs for pain, but they require great comittment and sometimes quite a lot of money. It will be interesting to see if people begin to be more vocal about the problem sometime in the next five years or so. My personal opinion is that the physicians and the drug companies bear the greatest responsibility for the situation.
    Also, becoming more involved and educated about your health care is important. It's really okay to question or disagree with your doctor, too.

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  18. Even if as said in an above comment, I've never heard of an opioid crisis in France, I'm always surprised how easily doctors prescribes painkillers. I recently hurt my neck. I went to the doctor just to check it wasn't anything serious. It wasn't, but he insisted that I need to take six painkillers a day. I didn't swallow one, of course, and made myself a hot bottle to apply to my neck!

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  19. Trump people can't spell it :)

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-administration-spelling_us_598b87ace4b0449ed507be19?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

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