Painkiller Use Up
An Associated Press analysis shows the percentage of people using at least one of five major painkillers increased 90 percent between 1997 and 2005 and Missouri leads the nation in use of the drug Oxycodone, up 1,100 percent over the same time period.
Officials are unsure why Missouri ranks so high in Oxycodone usage, but pharmacist Bob Kilgore said lately he seems to be filling more painkiller prescriptions.
"I think there is also a trend unfortunately in the United States that some of these drugs are being used and prescribed inappropriately for patients that don't really need them and they are ending up on the street," Kilgore said.
Officials, however, don't seem to think addiction or recreational use is the cause of this latest trend.
"I think one of the reasons it's gone up is a lot of the people in the baby boomer generation, medicine has been more available to them," family health officer Kay Strom said.
"They are a part of the if it's wrong then let's fix it, and they expect problems with their body to be fixed, rather than just live with them as people in the past have," Strom said.
Doctors who once advised patients that pain is part of the healing process began reversing course in the early 1980s.
Now most see pain management as an important ingredient in overcoming illness.
Even though easier than ever to get access to painkillers, officials say they are confident in their ability to screen those patients who really need the medicine.