The mortality rate for painkiller overdose is rising, and very little is being done about it.
The new painkillers are highly addictive, and people are getting hooked left and right these days, throwing pain sufferers into the dark spiral of addiction that often leads to overdosing.
Sadly, no one wants to do anything about it other than document the deaths.
I propose that drugs like Oxycodone be prescribed with a 'taper kit.' This means that once you complete your last regular refill, you get a 'wheel' of pills (think of a birth control pill kit) that gradually reduce the daily dosage over a month. This way, the patient can be taken off the drug in a less-than-sudden manner and have a greater chance of shaking dependency.
Right now, there are only some additives that supposedly reduce dependency by slowing the uptake into the body (which ostensibly reduces the 'high'), but the jury is still out on its effectiveness.
Many addicts these days start off with pain medications. Once they become physically addicted, their inability to successfully fight this battle leaves them with the emotional pain necessary for full addiction to take hold. I have seen this destroy a number of people who otherwise would have gone through life without addiction.
It is a real problem, and I hope that the drug companies and the government that insists on regulating them do something about this.