"There’s no evidence that these prescription painkillers work well for chronic pain conditions. Nonetheless, the drug companies market these drugs for those purposes."
Actually, by law — and it’s pretty hard to get away with it — pharmaceutical companies are only allowed to market drugs for the purposes which have been approved by the FDA. Drug companies who violate this pretty quickly find themselves in hot water because of the number of people who are out to tag pharma companies as evil.
A huge source of the problem are the doctors who willingly and readily prescribe these medications because it’s easy to do so.
Think about - next time you go to the dentist and the dentist prescribes oxycodone, just try to tell him/her “no” and see what they say. They think you’re nuts (even though oxycodone doesn’t work on pain any better than Tylenol (because it *is* Tylenol with codeine). The codeine only makes you not care but does nothing at all to work on the affective center (e.g., the pain center) of the brain.
Remember that people can’t get addicted to these medicines WITHOUT A DOCTOR’S prescription. (Okay, so they can get the stuff illegally but the majority of addictions start out with a doctor’s prescription.)