(CNN) – Investigators are saying musical legend Prince had prescription pain medication on him when he died. While it’s not clear if that medication was a factor in his death, medical experts are warning that opioid drug abuse is nothing short of a national crisis.
The federal government says it’s gotten so bad, someone is accidentally overdosing every 19 minutes.
Addiction specialists say the medicine cabinet has become the new drug dealer. 28,000 people died from overdoses linked to opioids in 2014, the most recent federal data available.
Experts like Doctor Omar Manejwala are nothing short of alarmed. “Yeah it’s an epidemic for sure, we’re five percent of the world’s population Americans are, and yet we consume 80 percent of the global supply of opiates.”
Pain medications such as oxycodone, morphine, and hydrocodone are some of the most widely prescribed drugs in the country.
Opioids reduce pain by switching off pain receptors in the brain. Heroin meanwhile is an illegal opioid derived from the same poppy plant as government-approved medications.
Heroin abuse has skyrocketed as well, partly because of greater street availability. Even when you look at people who are using heroin, the vast majority of them now started with pain pills
A dangerous crisis that Manejwala says is currently sending 7,000 people a day to the emergency room.