- Posted by Austin Swim
- On February 8, 2016
- 0 Comments
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently published new research in the journal Addiction that indicates that there is a significant disparity between how many Americans perceive prescription painkillers as dangerous and how many use painkillers every year.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University began their research with a goal of better understanding prescription painkiller use and abuse, as not many public opinion studies have been carried out regarding this subject. They based their research on a web-based public opinion survey of 1,111 adults in the United States, which had been carried out in February 2014. With their research, they arrived at several interesting findings. First, an estimated seven in 10 Americans have been prescribed painkillers in their lifetime, and 17 percent report that they have actually taken painkillers prescribed for someone else. Second, more than one in four Americans has taken a prescription painkiller in the past year, even while an estimated 58% of Americans say that abusing these medications is a very serious public health concern.
Study leader Colleen L. Barry, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School, had this to say about these numbers: “This study shows that many Americans have had direct experience using prescription pain relievers and a sizable share have misused or abused these medications themselves or have close friends or family members who have done so.” She added, “The seriousness of the issue has become salient with the American public.”
There is another major finding of note: most people will pin the current public health crisis on those who abuse painkillers and on the doctors who prescribe them.
These statistics come at a time when drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death for those between the ages of 25 and 64, with the majority of drug overdoses being linked to prescription painkillers. The statistics reveal that the public might support additional policy measures that would regulate painkiller prescriptions and in turn help control what has become an epidemic of abuse. Such policy measures might include instituting better medical training to control pain and treat addiction, requiring doctors to ensure that patients do not receive multiple prescriptions for the same medication, and requiring pharmacists to check identification before dispensing painkiller prescriptions. As we have already seen in the state of Florida, increased regulation could be the key to slowing prescription painkiller abuse.