Since 2002, new cases of recreational use of painkillers have declined, and yet the numbers of deaths from painkiller overdose have soared in the US. The number of people who have been seeking help for painkiller addiction has increased by 900 per cent since 1997.
Doctors are over-prescribing because they don't fully understand the dangers of painkillers, and especially their addictive qualities, say researchers from Johns Hopkins University. And those who have been taking painkillers for a long time need help in overcoming their addiction. "Without better access to addiction treatment, overdose deaths will remain high," said lead researcher Dr Andrew Kolodny.
(Source: Annual Review of Public Health, 2014; 36(1): 150112150436006)