|Photo Attribution: |
By J. Troha (Photographer)
[Public domain or Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Original author: Leana Wen, MD MSc
Recently, I learned of some shocking statistics:
- Every year, pharmacies dispense 257 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers — one for every adult American.
- While the U.S. makes up less than 5 percent of the world's population, Americans consume 80 percent of its total opiate supply.
- 1/3 of people who used illicit drugs for the first time start by using a prescription drug.
- Prescription narcotics kill 6 times more people per year than heroin.
My recent article in NPR explores this struggle, between relieving people's pain, and possibly fueling this worsening epidemic.