According to the IU Center for Health Policy, dosage units of pain medicine has exploded in Indiana. Numbers went from 29 million pills prescribed in 2002, to 54 million pills in 2007. In 2008, 11.6 million prescriptions were dispensed in Indiana. A total of 11.5 million were bought by Indiana residents, the remaining pills were shipped out of state.
Dr. Whiteman said more and more people are checking themselves in, addicted to Opioids, like Oxycodone and Hydrocone, medicine they are prescribed by a doctor.
"There is no objective measure of pain, so if a patient says they are in pain and they need help with that a lot of times it is hard for a physician to exclude that as a problem," said Whiteman. "So physicians are inclined to want to help their patients when patients come in and have these reports."
Research numbers do not lie. In 2009, more than 1 million Hoosiers admitted they have taken painkillers for non-medical use. It is not just one ethnic group or even gender of people sitting down in a doctor's office and getting prescription painkillers. Dr. Whiteman said the spike in sales affects all groups of people in most Indiana cities and towns.
"This is an epidemic across the nation," said Whiteman. "There is no place, there is no socio-economic group spared from this."
Whiteman said Opioids are not perceived as dangerous as designer drugs, but he said they can be just as deadly.
"Prescription Opioids are the leading, or involved in the leading causes of death due to overdose now, over any elicit substance, like heroin or cocaine."
Whiteman said getting the word out and educating the public are the best ways to help bring addiction numbers down.
The Drug Enforcement Agency is stepping up to help out, by hosting a prescription drug take-back later this month. Information about the program is available online.