The New Yorker, November 13, 2013
By 2010, the United States, with about five per cent of the world's population, was consuming ninety-nine per cent of the world's hydrocodone (the narcotic in Vicodin), along with eighty per cent of the oxycodone (in Percocet and OxyContin), and sixty-five per cent of the hydromorphone (in Dilaudid). As narcotics prescriptions surged, so did deaths from opioid-analgesic overdoses?from about four thousand to almost seventeen thousand. Studies have shown that patients who receive narcotics for chronic pain are less likely to recover function, and are less likely to go back to work. The potential side effects of prescription narcotics include constipation, sexual dysfunction, cognitive impairment, addiction, and overdosing.