Experts are worried that an explosion in prescription drug sales is creating a wave of addiction. An analysis by The Associated Press shows pharmacies, hospitals and physicians dispensed the equivalent of 69 tons of pure oxycodone and 42 tons of pure hydrocodone in 2010.
That's enough to give 40 5-mg Percocet tablets and 24 5-mg Vicodin to every person in the U.S.
The increases have coincided with a wave of overdose deaths, pharmacy robberies and other problems in New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Florida and other states. Opioid pain relievers, the category that includes oxycodone and hydrocodone, caused 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008 alone, and that number is rising, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
The increase is partly because of the aging U.S. population with pain issues and a greater willingness by doctors to treat pain, said Gregory Bunt, medical director at New York's Daytop Village chain of drug treatment clinics.
ABC News and The Associated Press contributed to this story.