In 2012, there were over 259 million opioid prescriptions written by physicians in the United States. Opioid addiction is clearly the fastest growing drug problem facing our country today. For this reason and others, the CDC recently published The CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids forChronic Pain.
According to a CDC report, enough opioid pain relievers were sold in 2010 to “medicate every adult in the United States with the equivalent of a typical dose of 5 mg of hydrocodone every 4 hours for 1 month.”
Want more statistics? According to the CDC, drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death in 2012. Among people 25 to 64 years old, drug overdose caused more deaths than motor vehicle traffic crashes.
What’s worse, the drug overdose death rate has more than doubled from 1999 through 2013.
In 2013, statistics show that 35,663 (81.1%) of the 43,982 drug overdose deaths in the United States were unintentional, 5,432
(12.4%) were of suicidal intent, and 2,801 (0.06%) were of undetermined intent.
In 2011, drug misuse and abuse caused about 2.5 million emergency department (ED) visits. Of these, more than 1.4 million ED visits were related to pharmaceuticals, according to statistics.
Between 2004 and 2005, an estimated 71,000 children (18 or younger) were seen in EDs each year because of medication overdose (excluding self-harm, abuse and recreational drug use). Among children under age 6, pharmaceuticals account for about 40% of all exposures
reported to poison centers.
Clearly, there is a major problem with opioids bordering on an epidemic. No one is immune from this crisis. The entertainer ‘Prince’ is the latest tragic statistic in prescription overuse and abuse. He had a pain problem and was given pain medications without appropriate monitoring. He got out of control….and died. This story repeats itself over and over again. Doctor’s and patients have to understand that pain medications are effective, but potentially very dangerous.
In fact, Prince represents a classic example of reduced tolerance to opioids. He was treated for an overdose, detoxified and then returned to using large amounts of pain killers. His tolerance had been reduced to painkillers, but he did not know that…. and died. Prince is the latest victim of the opioid addiction epidemic in America.