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The Rise of Opiate Abuse in the United States

Twelve US states have more opioid prescriptions than people.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Alabama—one of the states on this list—has a population of 4.8 million.

That means that the state of Alabama possessed more than 4.8 million opioid prescriptions in 2012, when the CDC’s research was conducted.

Crazy, right?

The opioid epidemic in the United States has broken terrifying barriers in the past several years, as the number of prescriptions (and addictions) continues to rise.

The statistics are staggering—and unfortunately, a part of our reality.

Opioids are intended for pain relief. When taken as prescribed and for a short period of time, they can serve as an effective pain management tool. When abused, they can destroy everything in their path.

Long-term use of opioids can lead to dangerous outcomes and effects. When an individual is actively taking opioids on a daily basis, the nerve cells in the brain begin to operate differently. As the nerve cells become accustomed to the numbing properties of the opioid in question, the individual becomes dependent on the drug.

Feelings of well-being or “numbness” are typically associated with opiate use, and as an individual continues to abuse the drug, they develop a high level of tolerance. This vicious process has led to countless overdoses in recent years, with more than half of drug-related overdose deaths related to prescription drug abuse.

As an individual withdraws from opioid use, the body and brain will undergo significant aftereffects. From a physical standpoint, these effects include insomnia, nausea, and muscle cramps. The psychological effects, including anxiety and depression, can last well into an individual’s recovery.

Studies by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) show that opioid prescriptions have nearly tripled in the past 25 years. Nearly every adult individual has—or knows someone who has—been prescribed some form of prescription painkiller at some point their lives.

Why are these numbers on the rise? Why are so many more prescriptions being given today, when the cycle of abuse continues?

According to NIDA, there are several factors, in addition to overprescription, that have contributed to this stunning epidemic, including aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies. Opiates are also readily available online.

Though no matter the causation, the statistics don’t lie.

4.8 million prescriptions in Alabama—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This is not an issue that stands in isolation; it is an epidemic, and its devastating effects are many.
If you or a loved one is seeking recovery from addiction, please call 844.900.RECO. 


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