Painkiller Abuse Is a Serious Problem, Hopkins Research Says

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Johns Hopkins just released a major study about public opinions on painkiller abuse–the first-ever national survey of this magnitude on the subject, according to researchers — and the results aren’t pretty.

Nearly 6 in 10 of those surveyed said that abuse of prescription painkillers was very or extremely serious, according to study leader Colleen L. Barry. That puts the issue right up there with tobacco use and gun violence, in terms of how seriously it’s taken by the American public.

That level of concern increasingly makes sense. Gun accidents caused 84,258 non-fatal injuries in 2013; the year before, a whopping 475,000 emergency room visits involved abuse, misuse, or overdose of prescription drugs. “The issue has not yet been highly politicized like some public health issues such as the Affordable Care Act, gun violence, or needle exchanges, so we may have an opportunity to stem this epidemic,” said study co-author Emma McGinty.

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