Use of Painkiller Drugs Triples in 20 Years

Released: 
December 29, 2012

Americans have tripled the use of prescription painkillers in the past 20 years. And they’re overdosing on them more than heroin.

Prescriptions for painkilling drugs have nearly tripled in two decades, and unintentional overdose deaths from these drugs now exceed those from heroin and cocaine combined.

Back in 1991, 75.5 million painkiller prescriptions were written in the United States. In 2010 it was up to 209.5 million. That was enough to medicate the entire American adult population for one month. The pharmaceutical industry estimates painkiller spending rose from $6.7 billion in 2007 to $8.3 billion in 2011.

Methadone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone were the legal prescriptions that caused the most overdose deaths.

Today’s infographic has more details. Check it out, then drop into our discussion. Why do you think prescription painkiller use has risen so much? Should action be taken?