According to a congressional testimony by the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, 80 percent of the world’s painkillers are consumed in the U.S.
BBC News reports that Americans consume enough painkillers for each of its citizens to have 64 Percocets or Vicodin.
The report said that prescription drug abuse leads to 14,800 deaths a year, which is more than what heroin and cocaine total combined.
The number of those who are taking painkillers is a 600 percent increase from where it was 10 years ago. Also, police reports across the country have increased for crimes done by people addicted to oxycodone and hydrocodone, which are key ingredients in most prescription painkillers.
Long Island, New York, pharmacist Howard Levine told the BBC that “we’ve become a society of wusses.”
He said that he stopped carrying all of the major addictive prescription drugs after he was robbed by addicts who were looking for their fix.
Rich Elassar, a 36-year-old who once owned a successful business in New Jersey, said that when he turned to using painkillers, he was popping 90 Percocets a day.
When his money ran out, Elassar told BBC that he decided to turn to illegal activities in order to fulfill his addiction.
He admitted to the news agency that he had walked into a bank, and handed the teller a note that demanded cash. As he was fleeing the scene, he looked in his rear-view mirror and saw salvation for his addiction.
“I looked in my rear-view mirror and I saw the cops, I saw their lights flashing and I really, really, really remember thinking, well this is it. I’m going to get clean now,” he told BBC.
However, despite spending three years in prison and becoming a part of a drug recovery program, he still couldn’t kick the habit of taking oxycodone.
Elassar said he has relapsed three times since his release, and takes medicine every day to keep away the withdrawal symptoms.
He told BBC that he’s been clean since June, but is still unsure whether he’s kicked his addiction for good.
“I think this is definitely it. I mean, I say think and I pray to God every day that this is it,” Elassar told the news agency in an interview.