From paracetamol to co-codamol, 24 million opioid prescriptions were given out in the UK in 2016, which is double that of just 10 years ago.
Europe’s overall overdose deaths also rose for the third consecutive year in 2015 to 8,441; 81 per cent of which were related to opioids.
Now new research from the largest study of its kind reveals patients taking painkillers alongside medication for heart disease, stroke or diabetes are 95 per cent more likely to become obese as the sedative drugs make people inactive and affect their metabolism.
Earlier this year TV presenter Ant McPartlin from the duo Ant & Dec opened up about his addiction to prescription painkillers after injuring his knee two years ago.
Now sober, the I’m A Celebrity presenter was told by his doctor he could have died after consuming copious amounts of opioid-based painkillers washed down with alcohol.
Opioids, which often lead to addicts experimenting with illegal substances such as heroin, have caused more deaths by accidental overdose than any other drug in US history, leading to President Trump declaring the epidemic a national public health emergency in October.