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Americans are being Medicated to Death

Published: April 22, 2014
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Source: TopRNtoBSN.com

medicated to death

Americans are increasingly prescribed medications that help them get more sleep, feel less stress and have more energy to accomplish a seemingly endless list of daily tasks. But is this really a good thing? Let’s take a look at how overmedication can be affecting our health.

State of Health

How much medication are we taking, and why?
Nearly 7 in 10
Americans who take at least one prescription drug (1)
1 in 5
People who take five or more prescriptions (1)
100 million
Americans affected by chronic pain (2)
80%

Proportion of the world’s painkillers consumed in the United States (3)
1 in 4
American adults who are unhappy with their sleep patterns (4)
60 million
Prescriptions Americans filled for sleeping pills in 2011, up from 47 million in 2006 (5)
4 in 5
Americans prescribed antibiotics each year (6)

The Risks of Overmedication

40%
People who become addicted to benzodiazepines (like some sleeping pills or anxiety medication) after taking them daily for more than 6 weeks (7)
Every 19 minutes, a person dies from prescription drug overdose (3)
2 million
Annual number of drug-resistant bacterial infections in the U.S. (8)

Causes of Overmedication?

Every patient is different, but some common themes emerge in considering potential overmedication:

  • Increase in chronic conditions, like heart disease and diabetes
  • Rapidly aging population, which means more people need to take medications
  • Cost of expensive testing vs. prescription costs

Sources:
1. http://www.drugfree.org
2. http://www.painmed.org
3. http://www.cnn.com
4. http://www.huffingtonpost.com
5. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com
6. http://www.cbsnews.com
7. http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk
8. http://www.cdc.gov

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