A new study finds that Americans are using too many opioid pain relievers, like hydrocodone and oxycodone. Researchers said the use of these drugs is causing deaths through accidental overdoses.
While opioid medications are usually used to alleviate pain, they pose a risk of abuse. Data shows that back in 1999, the number of accidental opioid overdoses in the United States was 3,000; by 2007, that number had increased to 12,000. Researchers also added that there has been a fivefold increase over the last decade in the number of people admitted to substance abuse programs for opioid addiction.
The study also found that 11.7 percent of the 202 million opioid prescriptions that were issued in the U.S. in 2009, went to children and young adults. However, researchers also admitted that more work is needed to determine whether the high rate of prescriptions is warranted.
The study can be found in the Journal of the American Medical Association.