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Prescription Painkiller Users Now Outnumber Tobacco Users

Cigarettes used to be one of the most commonly abused substances in the United States. However, a recent survey shows that 38% of Americans used prescription painkillers in the past year, while 31% used tobacco products. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the information as part of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

The vast majority of people who used the drugs obtained them through legitimate prescriptions, which is potentially just as alarming since it highlights the overprescribing of the drugs in our country. Prescribing practices have played a big role in creating the massive prescription drug problem that America is now facing.

Even people who are following their doctor’s orders regarding their prescription painkillers are at risk for developing a habit. The pills can be so highly addictive that some people are not even aware they are dependent until they try to stop using them. Upon sudden cessation of prescription painkillers, users will likely experience insomnia, cravings, depression, anxiety, chills, body aches and nausea. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on how much was being consumed prior to stopping and how long they were taking the drugs. In some cases, physical dependency can start to occur within a matter of weeks.

Not only are opioids extremely addictive, but they are also deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription painkillers were the cause of death for almost 19,000 Americans in 2014. This does not mean that all of those who died were addicts. People who are prescribed painkillers by their doctors are also at risk for accidental overdoses and interactions with other drugs. In fact, this risk is so high that some physicians are now prescribing naloxone to their patients in addition to the painkillers as a precautionary measure to prevent overdose deaths.

So, while less Americans are smoking cigarettes, opioids still pose a major risk to society. If you have a loved one who needs help getting off painkillers, contact Acceptance Recovery Center today to see how we can help.