Abuse of painkillers is increasing

Abusing painkillers

Prescription painkiller abuse is mounting, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Hospital emergency rooms are treating more than twice the number of cases they did a few years ago, researchers found.

One of the most abused pain medicines, OxyContin, led to about 105,000 ER visits in 2008, up 152 percent from visits in 2004, HealthDay reports. Experts are concerned about the trend and its impact on public health. Peter Delany, the director of the Office of Applied Studies at SAMHSA, told HealthDay the trend is likely a result of the drugs' increasing availability.

"We know that some young kids are taking these things from their parents' medicine cabinets," he said. In other cases, he said, people don't use all of the prescription, and the leftover pills "are making their way into nonmedical use."