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Infographic: Prescription Painkiller Epidemic


The United States is in the grip of a drug epidemic, but it’s probably not the type of drug epidemic most would imagine. This epidemic does not involve heroine, crack, cocaine or any other typical illegal street drug that typically comes to mind. It’s an epidemic of prescription drugs, particularly prescription painkillers.

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This infographic utilizes statistics from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to analyze the problem. With rates of death by overdose rapidly approaching that of deaths by motor vehicle crashes, it is clear that something must be done. From 1990 to 2002, the overdose death rate had doubled. By 2008, there were nearly 37,000 deaths from drug overdose. The problem is the rapid rise of prescription drug use and an overdose death rate that doubled from four to eight people out of every 100,000 from 1990 to 2002 and has now surpassed 12 out of every 100,000.

In 2008, there were nearly 37,000 deaths from drug overdoses. The source of prescription drugs offers insight to the unique nature of this type of drug abuse. A whopping 55 percent of abusers get the drugs for free from friends and relatives, while 17.3 percent have them prescribed by a doctor.

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Another 11.4 percent purchase the drugs from relatives or friends. Less than 5 percent steal the drugs from friends or relatives and even fewer get the drugs from drug dealer or strangers. This problem stretches past the abuser to those who they are receiving prescription drugs from. Some may feel like they are doing a friend or family member a favor by sharing prescription drugs. However, a look at the figures proves otherwise.

With 27 deaths per 100,000 in New Mexico, nearly 26 in West Virginia and nearly 20 in Nevada, it’s clear that this serious problem cannot continue to be ignored.

This infographic is presented by Origins Recovery Centers, a Texas drug rehab facility located in South Padre Island, Texas.

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