Prescription Painkiller Addiction Highest In South

South Carolina, More Southern States, Have Worst Rates of Prescription Painkiller Addiction

prescription painkiller addictionA report published on Tuesday, July 8th, analyzed rates of opioid prescriptions across the nation in 2012, and while Florida – previously one of the worst offenders – appeared to have cleaned up its act, other Southern states, including South Carolina, ranked among the worst offenders for rates of prescription painkiller addiction.

The report studied prescription rates for painkillers such as Vicodin, Percocet, and OxyContin. The highest rates of prescription painkiller abuse came from Alabama, where providers wrote 143 prescriptions for every 100 residents. Hawaii had the fewest prescriptions for opioid painkillers, with 53 prescriptions for every 100 residents. Other low states included California and New York, while other high states included South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

US Healthcare providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers in 2012, according to the CDC, which is enough to give a bottle of prescription painkillers to every adult in the country.

The CDC said that the varying rates of prescription painkillers did not correlate with variations in painful injuries or chronic illnesses. Rates of pain are spread evenly across the US, the government agency said, and the prescription painkiller rates instead reflect inappropriate prescribing practices.

“Overdoses from opioid narcotics are a serious problem across the country and we know opioid overdoses tend to be highest where opioids get the highest use,” says CDC director Tom Frieden. He says the medications “can be an important tool for doctors to use … but they are not the answer every time someone has pain.”

Prescription painkillers are one of the most commonly abused drugs in the US, despite the fact that they are highly regulated.

However, when states take action, the report shows, rates of prescription painkiller abuse and addiction plummet. Florida is a perfect example: once a notorious hub for pill mills, the state began to take action against the prescription painkiller epidemic in 2009, with laws regulating pain clinics and sending officers to shut down medical facilities that improperly prescribed drugs for profit. The state instituted a prescription monitoring program, as well. Opioid overdose deaths fell 27% between 2010 and 2012, with deaths from oxycodone products falling 52.1%.

“The take-home message is that the problem needs to be attacked from several different angles,” including policy changes and enforcement, says researcher Hal Johnson, a consultant to the Florida Department of Health and co-author of the report.

In March of this year, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley issued an executive order to create a prescription drug abuse prevention council.

“Prescription drug abuse is a serious issue in this country and in South Carolina, affecting far too many of our citizens and their families,” said Gov. Haley. “Finding solutions for drug addiction of any kind is always complicated and takes a real team effort and I thank Inspector General Maley and our partners for their leadership and willingness to help combat this growing problem.”

Last year, a report from the South Carolina attorney general revealed that the state was 10th in the nation for rates of prescription drug abuse and painkiller addiction, but there was no plan in place to fight the growing problem. In contrast, states like Kentucky and Florida, which put plans in place to stem the rising tide of prescription drug abuse, reported a 20% drop in the epidemic once the plans had been enacted.

The Strom Law Firm Protects Against Prescription Painkiller Abuse Charges

Being arrested for prescription painkiller abuse is something that can be devastating financially and emotionally, and can have long-lasting personal and professional consequences. We understand what you are going through, and we are here to help. We will investigate your case from every angle, determine whether an illegal search took place and seek to have your charges reduced or even dismissed. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so call us today at 803.252.4800.

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