A Rapidly Growing Problem
The 2010 Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse opening remarks excerpts stated that 7 million Americans reported current nonmedical use of prescription drugs in 2009. This startling high number is now larger than the number of people using cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants combined. Within the larger category of prescription drug abuse, the number of people seeking admission for treatment for opiate pain medication abuse increased over 450% in the last decade. During this same time period, the number of fatal poisonings involving prescription opioid analgesics more than tripled, outnumbering total deaths involving heroin and cocaine.
In the last 20 years, the total number of Hydrocodone and Oxycodone prescriptions in the United States has increased meteorically. Starting at just over 40 million painkiller prescriptions in 1991 and now rapidly closing in on 200 million prescriptions for pain relievers in 2009.
Pain medication abuse can be understood better by separating people into two categories called Youth Pain Medication Abuse and Adult Pain Medication Abuse. The youth pain medication abuse category consists primarily of young people using pain medication for nonmedical use. The adult pain medication abuse category primarily consists of people who obtained their pain medically legally through a doctor. Of course there are people who overlap from each of these categories into the other category. But governmental data shows that age group is the common denominator for the majority of pain medication abusers.
In certain segments of our society, like the military or professional athletes, the general public has traditionally accepted the use of pain medication to allow a soldier or a pro athlete to perform their respective jobs when they become injured. But only in recent years has the extent of pain medication abuse in both military and professional sports come to light.
Deputy Commander of the US Military Special Forces Admits to Pain Medication Abuse Problem
The most recent revelation of pain medication abuse came directly from the very top of the military brass from Lt. Gen. David Fridovich of the Green Berets. In January 2011, the deputy commander of the Special Forces announced that the US military has developed a pain medication abuse epidemic. He added that he can speak personally on the matter. Because of his own chronic pain, he too has had a pain medication abuse problem for the last 5 years.