Tiger Woods’ recent arrest in Florida highlights a major problem that has been boiling over in the U.S. for years: prescription drug abuse.
On May 29, Woods was arrested and charged with a DUI after he was found asleep at the wheel of his Mercedes near his Florida home. A subsequent blood test showed that he had no alcohol whatsoever in his blood. Rather, Woods said that he’d had an unexpected reaction to taking Xanax in addition to as many as four prescription drugs. One of the drugs listed on Woods’ arrest affidavit was Vicodin, an opioid pain reliever. Woods had back surgery in April.
This high-profile case highlights the massive problem that prescription drug abuse presents in the United States. There’s plenty of blame to go around, with drug manufacturers, doctors and insurance companies each responsible for a share of the problem.
Just this past month, the state of Ohio announced a lawsuit against five of the biggest drug manufacturers, accusing them of attempting to downplay the dangers associated with opioid painkillers.
The lawsuit claims that when manufacturers downplay the risks of opioid addiction resulting from painkiller use, they’re helping turn large numbers of the population into drug addicts.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2.1 million people in the U.S. have substance use disorders connected to prescription opioid pain relievers (as of 2012).
The number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain relievers has more than quadrupled since 1999.
But it’s not just the drug makers who are at fault. Prescriptions for opioid painkillers have doubled in the past decade, many of them unnecessary. Every time a prescription for Vicodin, codeine, tramadol and similar drugs is handed out, another potential addict is created.
Throughout the system, doctors, drug manufacturers and insurance companies are making it easier for people to become addicted and then harder to get clean once they are.
But it’s not an impossible situation.
If someone in your life is addicted to painkillers and needs help getting clean, give our office a call. Bostec provides tools that can help families monitor and measure drug use.
It is never too late to begin taking steps to get clean.