Friday, October 28, 2011

More than Five Million Americans Abuse Painkillers Each Month

More than Five Million Americans Abuse Painkillers Each Month

During Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, shares the story of Julie, who overcame a nearly fatal addiction to painkillers

Chicago, October 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Drugs are everywhere. The use of prescription painkillers has increased dramatically in recent years, and prescription drug abuse is now the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 5 million Americans misuse painkillers each month. Opioid painkillers—a class of very powerful and potentially addicting pain relievers—are the most common source of drug overdose deaths, resulting in more unintentional deaths than cocaine and heroin combined.

Who is taking all these drugs? Americans like Julie, a preschool teacher who suffered from back pain and became addicted to painkillers. “When you think of an addict, you think of the person laying in the street that’s addicted to heroin,” Julie says in her video on the site. “You don’t think of the person that’s living down the street from you and is addicted to painkillers.” Watch Julie’s video at to see her complete story.


Teens and prescription drug abuse

Because prescription drugs are so widely available, they’re also more accessible to teens, with nearly 2 million teens abusing prescription drugs each year. According to a survey sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, more than half of high school seniors said that opioid (narcotic) drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin would be fairly easy or very easy to get. Watch Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership at, discuss prescription drug abuse among teens at Parents can also get educated about the most commonly abused prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including the street names kids use to describe them, with the new Drug Guide.

Where can I learn more? is a website that provides practical information to help identify and prevent prescription drug abuse. Produced by the country’s largest customer-owned health insurer in collaboration with medical experts and national health organizations, features: Life stories of real people struggling with health and safety issues, expert Q&As, reputable resources and links, health news, in-depth articles and health quizzes.

At the site, visitors can also register for the monthly Spotlight Newsletter and News Alerts for in-depth articles and breaking news on drug safety and other health topics.
About Be Smart. Be Well. is sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Divisions of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Media Contact:
Ross Blackstone
Media and Public Relations Manager
Health Care Service Corporation


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