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Widespread misuse of painkillers caused thousands of deaths in the United States in the last decade, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study. Between 1999 and 2012, the organization reported that prescription drug fatalities increased 400 percent among women and 265 percent among men.
“More Americans now die from painkillers than from heroin and cocaine combined, and since 2008, prescription drug-induced deaths have outstripped those from automobile accidents, according to the CDC,” USA Today stated.
Unborn children are also at risk. “Cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)—which is a group of problems that can occur in newborns exposed to prescription painkillers or other drugs while in the womb—grew by almost 300% in the US between 2000 and 2009,” according to a CDC report published in Vital Signs.
Similarly, The New York Times stated, “Like the cocaine-exposed babies of the 1980s, those born dependent on prescription opiates—narcotics that contain opium or its derivatives—are entering a world in which little is known about the long-term effects on their development.”
In 2011 alone, 4.02 billion prescriptions were filled, according to the American Chemical Society. This has contributed to an increase in dependency and deaths.
“Drug abuse often begins with legally prescribed pain medications for legitimate injuries, but so many of these drugs are habit-forming that it doesn’t take long for someone to get hooked. Once that happens, it is almost impossible to stop,” The Chicago Tribune reported.