Health experts have revealed that painkiller addiction is becoming a bigger problem than illegal drugs. In the USA alone, it was found that the number of deaths caused by prescription painkillers over 10 years was four times higher than the rate of deaths from cocaine and heroin combined.
In the UK, last year there were 807 fatal overdoses involving prescription drugs compared to 718 deaths from heroin and cocaine. A worrying enough statistic on its own, what makes this even more concerning is the fact that this is a 16% increase compared to five years ago.
London-based Osteopath and Nutritionist, Michael Stewart explained that the problem frequently stems from patients visiting their GP with a legitimate reason for needing painkillers. Because they went to the doctor and followed the correct procedures, people don’t question the prescription and abuse often sets in almost by accident.
Those with addictive personalities or patients in chronic pain are the most vulnerable as the occasional hit becomes more frequent and before they know it, they can’t get through the day without one or more of their pills. Worryingly, thanks to the prevalence of painkillers in everyday life, prescription drug addicts can avoid suspicion for a very long time.
A shocking 62 million prescriptions for painkillers are now written out every year in the UK - a 30% rise in the past five years. Tara Saglio, a Couple’s Therapist from London, commented:
“Initially it may be the doctor’s fault for not informing the patient about the potential dangers of a painkilling drug but you have to see it in a bigger context. We pop Valium and sleeping pills to reduce anxiety. We take SSRIs such as Prozac to lift our moods and painkillers and alcohol to numb our pain. All these drugs can be useful at times, but what we’re doing is medicating the reality of life. We have such high expectations of happiness that we have less and less tolerance for any pain or discomfort.”
If you think that you or someone you know could have a painkiller addiction, please feel free to visit our painkiller addiction treatment and rehabilitation page for more information. You can also learn more about painkiller addiction on our painkiller knowledge centre.