Prescription drug use continues to rise at an alarming rate as consumers continue to rely on prescriptions medications. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly half of all Americans (48.5 percent) have used at least one prescription drug in the past month, a percentage that has grown over the last decade with 22 percent of the population using three or more prescription drugs often at high doses.

There are many reasons for these increases: People are living longer and develop chronic diseases with many conditions requiring more treatments and drugs; patients expectations are that they will always receive a prescription when they go to a physician’s office which encourages doctors to overprescribe; hospitals and Emergency rooms with little time for alternative treatments, want to help patients by giving them prescriptions to treat them expediently for pain, sleep and other issues, and; women’s visits to a doctor are more frequent than men’s and also results in a prescribed narcotic or anti-anxiety drug more often than it does for men.

Increased prescription writing unfortunately results in more side effects and even fatal overdoses. According to the CDC, from 1999 to 2010, the number of fatal overdoses has increased fivefold among women and tripled among men. When abuse of prescriptions is considered, the problem can be described as epidemic. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that nearly one-third of people aged 12 and over whom used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug non-medically.

These escalations continue to put stress on America’s health care system. Many studies point to the economic impact associated with the increased use of pharmaceuticals. In a recent study released by the Worker’s Compensation Research Institute, the average cost of treating an injured worker without an opiate is $13,000, compared to an average cost of $117,000 for a patient prescribed with a long-acting opiate like OxyContin. According to the Express Scripts 2012 Workers’ Compensation Drug Trend Report for each dollar spent on abused drugs, an additional $41 is used for associated medical treatment.

It’s no secret that more Americans want medical alternatives without the harmful side effects associated with pharmaceutical drugs. Consumer demands have shifted away from traditional pharmaceuticals to natural alternatives that address the nutrient demands of Pain . In fact, seventy-one percent of sleep-deprived Americans would rather use other means than pharmaceutical drugs to help them sleep, according to a 2013 Rx Sleep Survey.

Targeted amino acid based therapies are gaining momentum in the medical community for a variety of diseases. Amino acid based therapies work along different pathways in the body than drugs, and are often recommended as a complimentary medication to help reduce and even replace certain ineffective or dangerous therapies.

Improving access to alternative therapies for pain ultimately will improve patient outcomes and reduce the  healthcare and emotional costs associated with chronic pain. .