The use of prescription painkillers is now more prevalent in the United States than the use of tobacco, according to the latest findings from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
An analysis of the data conducted by Florida-based Novus Medical Detox Center, which is one of the state’s leading rehab facilities, shows around 92 million adult Americans (18 and older) used prescription opioids in 2015. This is a significantly higher number than the 75.4 million who reportedly used tobacco products during that time.
That means somewhere around 40 percent of the American population are getting the feel goods from inside a little brown pill bottle, which makes it easy to understand how the prescription painkiller market in the United States is now generating in upwards of $10 billion per year.
However, it is important to point out that these numbers are only representative of “use” and not an accurate portrait of the American junkie. In fact, the data shows that only about 12.5 percent of those people with a script for narcotic pain relievers are abusing them.
Nevertheless, this modest slice of the population with a tendency toward drug abuse has contributed to what has been deemed an “epidemic” by federal health officials. There is now somewhere around two million people in the United States suffering from a vicious addiction to prescription painkillers—a disease that is killing almost 80 people per day, according to the CDC.
“The latest government findings clearly demonstrate how widespread prescription painkiller use has become,” Kent Runyon, a spokesperson for Novus Medical Detox Center, told HIGH TIMES in a statement. “Though the vast majority of patients do not abuse their medications, the growing number of people who misuse them—combined with the steady rise in prescription opioid overdose deaths—underscore the urgent need for education and treatment.”
It was revealed earlier this week that Congress is set to approve $1 billion in funding to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic. However, some federal lawmakers argue the bill’s design will only worsen the problem.