Analyzing Statisitcs about Addiction to Painkillers

Do The Math About Addiction Rates

Mark Twain once wrote that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Perhaps there’s some truth in the author-humorist’s line because we’ve all heard enough statistics in our lifetimes to make a grown man cry!

It’s often difficult to get to the truth when someone throws a bunch of scholarly-sounding numbers at us, and proving statistical information is a lost cause unless you’re a researcher with nothing else to do.

The following statistics were taken from a web site for “The Waismann Method” and refers to this treatment center’s program of rapid detoxification from prescription painkilling opiate drugs. It cites information gained from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse.

  • Two million Americans use prescription painkillers each year
  • In some areas of the country, addiction to painkillers has overtaken that of cocaine and marijuana
  • About 9% of Americans have used painkillers illegally (without a prescription) in their lifetimes
  • About 1.6 million Americans used painkillers for non-medical reasons since 1998
  • Among young people age 12-17, the use of painkillers recreationally increased from 6.3 to 32.4 per 1,000 new users from 1990-1998
  • Among young adults age 18-25, this rate rose from 7.7 to 20.3 per 1,000 new users from 1990-1998

What do these statistics tell us? Why should we be concerned about what happened in the 90’s?

The first thing we can gain from these numbers is that a lot of Americans use “by prescription only” painkillers like

  • OxyContin
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Percocet
  • Dilaudid

and many others. Since there was such a dramatic jump in the number of people who took these medications from 1990 to 1998, and since all the major drug research studies indicate that these numbers continue to rise, we can assume that today, in late 2010, the number of Americans who use prescription painkillers has increased even more dramatically.

The second thing these statistics tell us is that at an ever-increasing rate, Americans are using narcotic painkillers illegally and recreationally without a prescription. This appears to be the case primarily for adolescents and young adults. Stolen from pharmacies, veterinary clinics, drug supply companies and unsuspecting, naïve parents’ medicine cabinets, these medications have a very high street value in every city in America.

The illegal recreational use of prescription narcotics is a very scary situation for these reasons:

  • “Oxys” bought on the street figure prominently in accidental overdoses among young people. Without a physician’s guidance for safe use, a handful of pills is extremely dangerous. A narcotic overdose can result in brain damage, irreversible coma and death.
  • A person who is under the influence of narcotics is more likely to be the victim of sexual assaults, including date rape.
  • Suicide rates among adolescents continue to rise; the use of street narcs is a preferred method of self-harm among adolescents.
  • Users of street “narcs” have no idea exactly what they’re buying. After handing over a wad of bills to a street dealer, the buyer may discover that what was sold to him or her as OxyContin is actually nothing more than acetaminophen or aspirin tablets.
  • Young people ages 15-25 who use painkillers recreationally set a very dangerous precedent for themselves. In later years, they’re more likely to suffer from alcohol addiction, marijuana abuse, and heroin addiction.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics. Perhaps Mark Twain was wrong and we really can learn something from these statistics. If you see your own profile anywhere within this report, it’s not too late to turn the tides of your life in your favor. Get help. Get it right now.