More adults in the U.S. use prescription painkillers than use tobacco, the latest milestone that highlights an opioid abuse epidemic sweeping the nation and particularly Tennessee, where there are more opioid prescriptions than people living in the state.
A survey released in September by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 37.8 percent of U.S. adults used prescription painkillers, compared with 31.1 percent who used tobacco products last year.
“You’d like to think that is good news and reflects a reduction of tobacco use, but unfortunately that’s not the case,” said Danny Winder, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research and professor of molecular physiology and biophysics.
“It reflects the growing realization that addiction is a major public health problem,” he said. “It’s a particularly pernicious problem because of its prevalence. … Anytime you have a substance that is legally available and has addictive properties, that’s setting up the problem.”
Read the full story in The Tennessean.