Mixing Prescription Drugs with Alcohol is Like Playing Russian Roulette
Alcohol and Vicodin can be a deadly combination. There are a handful of prescription drugs that people regularly take with alcohol. Vicodin and alcohol mixing is common, as is Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Adderal, and many, many others. People often take these medicines and have no idea how harmful it truly is, and that it could even lead to sudden death. Here we’re going to focus primarily on Vicodin and the dangers of mixing it with alcohol.
Most people don’t know exactly why and how combining drugs can become toxic in a person’s body even in small doses. As far as alcohol and Vicodin go, this is what happens.
The Effects of Alcohol and Vicodin on Your Body
Separately, painkillers and alcohol have very different effects. They are different chemicals that have different purposes when introduced into the body. When combined, the chemicals can interact and cause a toxic combination that overwhelms a person’s system before your body can eliminate the toxins. Think of it as your body working on overtime and it just can’t keep up.
Excessive hydrocodone in Vicodin can cause memory loss, confusion, and breathing issues, many of the same things that excessive alcohol causes. Besides acute medical emergencies like cardiac and breathing problems, combining the two drugs can have an enormously negative impact on a person’s liver.
Mixing Drugs Is Not About How Much But How Your Body Tolerates It
Taking alcohol and Vicodin together can suppress the system so much so that a person’s breathing can stop completely. The FDA advises that people who are prescribed Vicodin should not drink any alcohol at all. Every person has a different body chemistry and will have a different reaction to any foreign substance that they put in their body.
You can have two people who weigh the same and have a similar body composure. One will be able to tolerate the mixture, and the second person might slip into a coma and die from the same amount. It’s a game of Russian Roulette that no one should ever play because it just isn’t worth it.
If you have consumed alcohol and Vicodin, some warning signs of overdose include:
Slow or weak pulse
Lack of coordination and control
Falling out of consciousness
If anyone you know exhibits these kind of symptoms after ingesting a substance, get medical help for them immediately.
It is always better to err on the side of caution when combining drugs and alcohol. If you aren’t sure, don’t do it. And by all means, if there is a warning label against drinking alcohol, stay away! Drug combinations cause so many useless deaths per year. A little vigilance could save a lot of lives.
In this day and age it is extremely commonplace for doctors to jot down and hand out prescription medication – often without many questions or knowledge of the patient’s history of drug abuse. Xanax, Vicodin, Valium – you name it – these drugs can be readily available at your closest Family Practice Physician. Say the right things, and you can walk out with a script to your drug of choice. Sounds insanely ridiculous and easy? Well, it is, and this is why you need to be completely upfront about your history of drug and/or alcohol abuse whenever you see a new doctor if you want to stay sober.
Don’t Accidentally Create a Drug Dealer Out of Your Physician
According to one statistic, over 52 million people in the U.S. Alone have used prescription pills non-medically. Where do they get these pills? Doctors, often more than one, or friends and family. Pills are so easy to obtain for a plethora of reasons: some doctors tend to over prescribe, it is a societal norm for people in America to “put a bandaid on” disorders with pills instead of treating the root cause, and unfortunately many doctors and patients alike are unaware of the dangers lurking in those sleek orange pill bottles.
Drug Addiction is a Slippery Slope
In recovery, we learn that we must maintain an all-or-nothing attitude. Once substances are introduced back into our lives it is an incredibly fast, slippery slope, and even the most innocent of gestures can bring us right back into full-fledged addiction before we can even recognize what is happening.
Being upfront with doctors about our medical history is incredibly important. Alternatives are available for nearly every drug out there – pain relief, anxiety, muscle relaxers – whatever your ailment, modern medicine likely has a non-narcotic fix for it. Go into your doctor’s appointment with a plan and allow yourself to be an open book about your history. Your doctor will be happy about your honesty and it will save you any temptation of mood-altering substances.
Think you can handle prescription pills? Don’t be so sure, and to err on the cautious side, don’t even think about trying it out. Even if pills weren’t your drug of choice, as addicts we don’t have a healthy sense of moderation. As they teach in rehab, play the whole tape through. This means, when you think about picking up a drink or substance, no matter how innocent it may seem, think about all of the events that happened leading up to you coming to treatment. You undoubtedly started drinking or dabbling with drugs in an innocent way – say for a little weekend or social fun – and had no idea how much it was going to destroy your life and ultimately take control.
Stop a Relapse Before it Starts
Going to your next doctor appointment or procedure with this knowledge can help save you months or years of battling a relapse, or it may even save your life. You have spent so much time and money rebuilding your life back to normal, so why even risk putting it back on the line when there are alternatives out there. Don’t be shy about discussing your addiction with your doctor – they are professionals who have seen and heard it all – they too will be happy for your upfront honesty and commitment to maintaining a completely sober lifestyle.
It has become pretty common knowledge that mixing alcohol and prescription pills is a lethal practice, what with all of the overdose-related deaths that have been accumulating over the course of the past several years throughout the vast majority of the nation. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to brush off the recent celebrity deaths that involved painkillers and booze and sweep the underlying causes of the national epidemic under the rug, especially if you are currently battling an addiction to drugs and alcohol. When I was heavily intoxicated (drunk as a skunk), I would put anything else into my body that promised to get me even further away from reality – I had no inhibitions and no fear of death. I was invincible. Or so I thought. In reality, I was standing on the very brink of death for around 7 years, one slight shove away from falling in headfirst.
Alcohol and Ativan
It is suggested that those who are prescribed Ativan (a pharmaceutical most commonly used to treat anxiety disorders) entirely avoid alcohol consumption of any degree. This is because combining alcohol and Ativan can result in some extremely dangerous side effects, such as:
Shallow breathing/respiratory failure
Loss of consciousness
Increased risk of overdose
Because Ativan works by slowing down brain activity in order to reduce anxiety levels, mixing this specific pharmaceutical medication with alcohol will slow neurological functioning even further, resulting in an increased risk of accidents. It is more common for those who mix Ativan and alcohol to die as the result of a tragic accident rather than overdose.
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Alcohol and Vicodin
Vicodin is a highly potent narcotic painkiller, composed of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone has been known to cause symptoms such as confusion, loss of memory, and shallow breathing when taken alone – when combined with alcohol, these symptoms are harshly intensified. Those who mix these two drugs may experience signs of overdose, such as:
Severe stomach pain
Shortness of breath
Loss of consciousness
Lack of coordination
Furthermore, the acetaminophen present in Vicodin has been linked to liver disease. Alcoholism, of course, has also been linked to liver disease. Taking the two together increases the risk of liver disease, as well as a slew of other severe health-related complications.
Xanax and Alcohol
It is extremely to mix Xanax and alcohol – even those who are taking prescribed doses of Xanax and are consuming alcohol simultaneously are putting themselves at risk of death. The cognitive and psychological consequences of doing so are extensive, and the risk of both addiction and overdose are significantly increased when both drugs are consumed concurrently. The withdrawal symptoms that occur when both drugs are taken at the same time are severe, and include:
Intense anxiety and depression
Mixing alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs of any kind is never a wise idea – however, it can be difficult to avoid if you are suffering from a severe substance dependency issue. Please contact us at Lighthouse Recovery Institute today for information on drug and alcohol rehab in your immediate area.
The prevalence of women taking opioid painkillers during pregnancy is on the rise. In fact, the number of women who take short-acting opioids, think Vicodin or Percocet, while pregnant has doubled over the past fifteen years.
Using painkillers during pregnancy brings with it a number of potentially harmful implications for the unborn child. Women on drugs like OxyContin or Roxicodone are more likely to give birth prematurely, have an underweight baby, or have a child born with developmental issues and neonatal abstinence syndrome (physical withdrawals). Smoking while pregnant, a somewhat common trait among addicts, only increases these risks.
As if that wasn’t scary enough, there’s more alarming news coming from a recent Tennessee study of expecting mothers. Dr. Stephen Patrick, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University and the study’s lead author, found that almost 30% of pregnant women used opioids.
Dr. Patrick went on to say,
“I was surprised by the number of women prescribed opioid pain relievers in pregnancy…I was also surprised by how commonly women smoked in pregnancy, and how much that increased the risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome among those who also used opioid pain relievers in pregnancy” (Science Times).
So what exactly is going on? Why are more and more women taking opioids during pregnancy? More importantly, what can we do to reverse this alarming trend?
Dr. Patrick’s team analyzed over 100,000 pregnant women’s Tennessee Medicaid medical records from the years 2009 to 2011. Their findings? Approximately 28% of pregnant women filled a painkiller prescription.
This comes at a time when opioids are being routinely overprescribed. Consider that in a nine-year period, 2000 to 2009, painkiller prescriptions quadrupled. Consider that during these nine-years the number of children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome tripled. There’s a clear correlation between the two.
Sounds pretty bad, right? Well it gets worse. Remember how Dr. Patrick warned against smoking while pregnant? Well, his study also found that 42% of women taking opioids while pregnant smoked. 42%! That’s almost half of all the women taking painkillers while pregnant! Something needs to be done and now.
It also appears that, according to researchers, the more cigarettes these women smoke, the more likely their baby is to experience neonatal abstinence syndrome.
There is, however, some light in an otherwise bleak situation. Dr. Patrick had the following to say about situations where it may be acceptable, even preferable, to take opioids during pregnancy,
“For women with opioid dependency, we know that use of maintenance opioids like methadone decrease rates of preterm birth compared to heroin. For these women, neonatal abstinence syndrome may occur in their infants, but it is much better than the alternative, which is preterm birth” (Science Times).
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What Can We Do to Help?
There are two things to remember about this latest study before tackling any type of solution. First, the study was only conducted in Tennessee. Second, it only examined pregnant women receiving Medicaid. Both of these limit the potential reach of the study, as well as the data uncovered.
Okay, removing those from the picture, there’s still a serious problem going on! There are ever increasing numbers of women taking dangerous drugs while pregnant. What can you and I do to help stem this tide?
Well, first we need to change this culture of euphoria. What exactly do I mean? Simple – the current state of the American psyche is that of pleasure seeking. People abuse drugs and alcohol because they like how these chemicals make them feel. To quote a famous book, “Men and women drink essentially because they like the effects produced by alcohol” (Alcoholics Anonymous).
So, before anything else can be changed, we need to address this culture of pleasure seeking. Then, we need to address another rampant problem. I’m talking, of course, about the over-prescription of medication, narcotic and otherwise, in America.
To fix this, we need to start looking beyond the ingrained idea that a pill or syrup can fix our problems. We need to start looking for the long-term solution to aches and pains, rather than the quick fix.
In fact, I believe our current culture of euphoria and quick fix medical attitude are tied together. Think about it, American’s love prescription meds and there are none they love more than opioids. There’s a reason we consume 99% of the world’s supply of hydrocodone (Vicodin’s chemical name).
To put it another way, we only need to change one thing to start seeing a decline in the number of pregnant women taking painkillers. What’s that one thing, you ask? Everything.
This may sound overwhelming, but it’s easier than we think. After all, conversations like the one we’re having right now are the first step. A critical examination of how and why so many pregnant women are taking painkillers is the first step to effecting real and lasting change.
As a tried and true addict and alcoholic, I can attest that we don’t make the best decisions during active addiction. That being said, there are few decisions as dangerous as combining drugs with alcohol. In this case, I’m talking about mixing Vicodin and alcohol.
Speaking from personal experience, the mixture of opioids and alcohol led to some of the lowest points in my life. The combination of the two led me to do things like walk over a mile in the snow without shoes on. They’ve contributed to numerous arrests and even more semi-overdoses.
Simply put, mixing Vicodin and alcohol is a recipe for disaster. The two chemicals interact with each other in such a way that overdose and negative side effects are common. That’s to say nothing of the strain they place on the liver and other major organs.
So, it’s best to avoid mixing Vicodin and alcohol. There are, however, certain situations where someone unknowingly combines the two. There are also situations, like mine, where addicts and alcoholics take Vicodin and alcohol together to produce a stronger high.
But why are hydrocodone and booze so deadly together? More to the point, why are they such a popular combination? We’ll find out as we examine common Vicodin and alcohol effects, as well as what’s contributed to their massive popularity.
To understand how Vicodin and alcohol interact, we first need to understand how each works on their own.
Vicodin, which goes by the chemical name hydrocodone, is a semisynthetic opioid. This means it’s made from naturally occurring substances, but is refined and processed to get the final product.
Hydrocodone is then mixed with acetaminophen to produce Vicodin. It comes in a variety of strengths, the most common of which are 5 milligram, 7.5 milligram, and 10 milligram (the acetaminophen is 500 milligrams, 750 milligrams, and 1000 milligrams, respectively).
Hydrocodone is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. This means it slows how the body sends and receives signals. It causes decreased respiration and nerve signals. Hydrocodone has also been known to cause vomiting.
Acetaminophen, on the other hand, doesn’t slow the body’s nerve signals down. What it does do is block pain signals from reaching the brain. It also harms the liver and stomach lining in high doses.
Alcohol is a CNS depressant. Much like hydrocodone, it slows the body’s respiration and functioning. However, it does this in different ways than Vicodin. The specifics aren’t important, but suffice it to say that alcohol is not an opioid. Alcohol, again much like Vicodin, puts significant strain on the liver and causes vomiting.
So, Vicodin and alcohol’s effects are similar in nature. That means that, when combined, they’re quite dangerous. Taking two CNS depressants at once dramatically slows respiration, heartbeat, and nerve signals. Taking both at once leads to hypotension, or very low blood pressure. Mixing hydrocodone and alcohol also puts a lot of stress on the liver.
It’s for these reasons that Vicodin and alcohol’s effects are so deadly. They make the individual effects of each other stronger. It isn’t an understatement to say that taking both at once is rolling the dice with overdose and death.
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Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol
Now that we understand the effects of Vicodin and alcohol, let’s look at why people mix them in the first place. Well, to begin with, both Vicodin and alcohol are incredibly popular in the US.
In fact, as of 2007, the United States was responsible for 99% of the world’s consumption of hydrocodone! That’s almost scary to think about. Our country takes 99% of the entire world’s supply of hydrocodone, most of it in the form of Vicodin.
Now, most of the people taking Vicodin and drinking alcohol aren’t abusing either. Most people taking Vicodin are prescribed it out of medical necessity for chronic pain or some other condition. Most people drinking are having one drink each night with dinner.
It’s when these two worlds collide that disaster ensues. Despite having a label on hydrocodone bottles that says not to take this medicine with alcohol, many people don’t see the danger and having one drink while taking opioid painkillers.
To be fair, the immediate dangers from a therapeutic dose of Vicodin and one drink aren’t huge. However, it’s still dangerous. Even more dangerous are those who mix Vicodin and alcohol because they’re chasing after a buzz.
I certainly fell into the latter category. I knew the dangers that opioids and booze possessed and I took them both anyway. I willingly risked my life in search of a high. That’s what active addiction will do you. It’ll make you take incredibly risks. It’ll make you disregard your own safety for a fleeting feeling.
So, whether you’re someone who’s unaware of the dangers that mixing Vicodin and alcohol brings, or you’re someone who simply doesn’t care, don’t do it! Obviously the solution to mixing potent chemicals, the solution to addiction, is much more complicated than saying “don’t do it.” Still, that’s as good a place as any to start.
In a bold and possibly rash move, the FDA approved a new “abuse-proof” form of a powerful opioid.
On November 20th, the FDA gave the green light to Hysingla ER, an extended release version of the popular opioid hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is the chemical name of the blockbuster drug Vicodin.
Okay, so the government approved a hard to abuse painkiller. What’s wrong with that? If anything, we should be singing Hysingla’s praises. I’m not so sure. A closer look into Hysingla and its development reveals a troubling history.
Hysingla is the latest form of extended release hydrocodone. Following Vicodin’s huge spike in popularity (it’s currently the most prescribed and abused painkiller in the U.S.), it became clear something had to be done.
Vicodin exposes its legitimate and recreational users to a host of negative side effects. These include liver damage, due to acetaminophen, and addiction. So, drug companies began working on a pure form of hydrocodone that was also “abuse-proof.”
Fast-forward to 2013. The FDA, despite numerous doubts about its safety, approved Zohydro ER. Legislators, police officers, addiction professional, and even the FDA’s own advisory board claimed Zohydro presented a danger to users due to its high levels of hydrocodone (the highest strength contains fifty milligrams of the opioid).
Once Zohydro hit the market, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency. It was reactions like these that prompted the pharmaceutical company Perdue to develop Hysingla.
Not everyone is so sure this new drug is safe, though. Jane Woodcock, the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, wrote the following –
“Prescription opioids with abuse-deterrent properties will not completely fix the prescription opioid abuse problem, but they can be part of a comprehensive approach to combat the epidemic.”
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How is Hysingla “Abuse-Proof?”
No matter what side of the Hysingla debate you’re on, we can all celebrate a drug that’s difficult for addicts to abuse. Surely we can all agree on that, right?
Well, it turns out Hysingla isn’t actually that abuse-proof. In fact, Hysingla is difficult to crush. That’s it. It doesn’t turn to gel when mixed with water. It isn’t impossible to inject. It’s simply difficult to crush.
Hysingla may need some better abuse-deterrent methods. Otherwise it’s destined to join the ranks of the many other “abuse-proof” drugs which aren’t too hard to abuse.
Since the mid-2000’s there’s been a push to develop abuse-proof alternatives to popular opioid drugs like OxyContin, Percocet, Roxicodone, and you guessed it, Vicodin.
These pills were simply too popular with addicts. People were overdosing left and right. A painkiller epidemic was born.
So, Perdue and other pharmaceutical companies began to develop “abuse-proof” forms of many opioids. The only drawback, though, was that these abuse-deterrent pills were still abusable.
OxyContin formulas started to turn to gel when mixed with water. Enterprising addicts figured out a way to extract the drug from the gel. Roxicodone pills were supposedly “un-crushable.” Once again, enterprising addicts learned how to crush them.
Not to mention, as a specific pill became harder to abuse, addicts would simply switch to one that wasn’t so hard. This is why, by the mid and late 2000’s, we saw people switching from oxy to Dilaudid.
This presents a powerful lesion. As long as opioid drugs are available, people will figure out ways to abuse them. It doesn’t matter if they’re “abuse-proof” or not.
So, what’s the answer? Well, there isn’t an easy answer. Knowledge of the destructive effects of addiction helps. Shifting the focus of addiction from a moral failing to a medical condition helps. Increased access to substance abuse treatment helps.
Now put all those things together and we can hope to see a real solution to American’s painkiller epidemic.
Vicodin is America’s favorite pain pill. It accounts for more prescriptions, more pills, more overdoses, and more deaths than any other prescription painkiller. This is especially troubling considering painkillers already account for three of four drug overdoses.
Vicodin reigns supreme over prescription drugs. What about Vicodin addiction facts, though? With so much hype surrounding this drug, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s real and what’s false. Which Vicodin addiction statistics are true? Which facts about Vicodin addiction matter?
Learn the truth about Vicodin addiction facts with Lighthouse Recovery Institute.
• Vicodin is a brand name combination of hydrocodone (a narcotic painkiller) and acetaminophen (an OTC analgesic). The most frequently prescribed hydrocodone pills are Vicodin and Lortab.
• Hydrocodone pills are the most prescribed painkillers in America. Over 140 million prescriptions were written in 2010 alone. In fact, Americans love drugs like Vicodin so much that we consume 99% of the world’s hydrocodone.
• It’s estimated that over 99,000 kilograms of hydrocodone will be produced in 2014. This amounts to over 198,000 pounds of pure hydrocodone.
• As of August 22nd, 2014, all hydrocodone products, including Vicodin, were moved from Schedule III to Schedule II. This means there are stricter regulations upon their prescription and dispensing.
• Prior to 1990, certain combinations of hydrocodone and OTC analgesics were classified as Schedule V. This means they were available without a prescription in many states.
• Hydrocodone is six times stronger than codeine. This led many researchers and scientists to call it “VI,” the Roman numeral for six. That’s how the brand name Vicodin was invented.
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Vicodin Addiction Statistics
Find five Vicodin addiction statistics below:
• In 2009, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated upwards of twenty-three million Americans have taken Vicodin, or other hydrocodone products, for nonmedical purposes.
• Of those over twenty-three million people, two million meet the criteria for Vicodin addiction.
• In 2006, hydrocodone sent more than 57,000 people to the ER.
• According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, in 2009 there were over 27,000 hydrocodone exposures.
• In 2010, Vicodin abuse sent over 115,000 people to the ER.
What Do These Vicodin Addiction Facts and Statistics Mean For You?
These statistics and facts about Vicodin addiction are scary! With over two million Vicodin addicts, and far more who abuse the drug, the phrase “painkiller epidemic” rings true. With Vicodin sending upwards of 100,000 people to emergency rooms, it’s clear something needs to be done.
Now that hydrocodone products have been classified as Schedule II narcotics, there should be lower levels of abuse. We should see a downward trend of Vicodin abuse and addiction. Still, there’s a larger problem at hand.
These facts about Vicodin addiction make it clear that Americans love prescription painkillers. Remember, we consume 99% of the world’s hydrocodone. That needs to change! We need to look less to pills to cure our problems and more to alternative routes.
Having a bad day? Don’t pop a Vicodin! Instead, call a friend and talk about it. See a therapist. Go for a run, walk, or bike ride. When we start implementing healthy alternatives, we’ll see true recovery from the prescription painkiller epidemic.
Painkiller addiction is nothing new. Ancient cultures all over the world used opium, both to treat pain and to catch a buzz. During the Civil War, morphine addiction was called the soldier’s disease, due to its prevalence among fighting troops. During the early 20th century, heroin was sold legally in Sear’s catalog!
However, the recent rise of prescription painkiller abuse and addiction are unprecedented. Never has there been a time when people were using opioid drugs with such frequency or in such numbers. Because of this massive intake of painkillers, there’s a lot of false information out there. People think they know painkiller addiction facts simply because they’ve taken painkillers. People think because they’ve taken Vicodin, they’re medical experts.
So, what’s the truth about painkiller addiction facts? Which painkiller addiction statistics are real? Which are skewed?
Learn accurate facts about painkiller addiction with Lighthouse Recovery Institute!
• The most common prescription painkillers are hydrocodone products (Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, etc.) and oxycodone products (OxyContin, Roxicodone, Percocet, etc.). Morphine products, although the first type of painkiller, have fallen out of popularity.
• In fact, hydrocodone products are the most prescribed drugs in the United States. They’re also the most diverted and abused prescription drug, painkiller or otherwise, in the country.
• The U.S. consumes 99% of the world’s hydrocodone and over 80% of the world’s oxycodone.
• Even when used as prescribed, painkillers are addicting. Physical dependence can develop in as little as two weeks of taking the prescribed amount.
• Prescription painkillers account for three out of four prescription drug overdose. In fact, as of 2009, prescription drugs caused more deaths than automobile accidents.
• Painkillers kill more people than cocaine and heroin combined.
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Painkiller Addiction Statistics
Find seven painkiller addiction statistics below:
• 10% of high school seniors admits to engaging in painkiller abuse.
• In 2009, painkillers sent over 475,000 people to the ER.
• In 2010, over twelve million people admitted to nonmedical use of prescription painkillers.
• In 2012, just over two million people met the criteria for painkiller addiction.
• In 2012, almost two million people abused painkillers for the first time. Of these, over 370,000 abused OxyContin.
• In 2012, 2.2% of adolescents (ages twelve to seventeen) engaged in nonmedical painkiller use.
• In 2012, approximately 973,000 people were admitted to treatment centers for painkiller abuse.
What Do These Painkiller Addiction Facts and Statistics Mean For You?
These statistics and facts about painkiller addiction mean only one thing – we’ve got a major problem on our hands! The U.S. is prescribing, consuming, abusing, and becoming addicted to painkillers like never before.
Why is this? That’s a complicated question with no easy answer. However, there is good news! With more people taking painkillers, comes more people seeking treatment. In 2002, 360,000 people were admitted to treatment centers for painkiller abuse. That number rose to 973,000 people in 2012.
There’s help out there. If you think you may have a problem with painkillers, reach out! It’s important to remember that you’re not alone!