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Prescription for Disaster: Louisiana's Opioid Addiction

NSC: Prescription drug overdoses now ‘national epidemic’

The National Safety Council has declared prescription drug overdoses in the U.S. to be a “national epidemic.” That’s a pretty strong statement, but the NSC backs it up with facts and makes recommendations on how to reverse the trend.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines epidemic as something that is “excessively prevalent.” The U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also called this problem an epidemic.

Here are the stats to make that argument:

  • Drug overdoses have now surpassed traffic crashes as the leading cause of injury death in the U.S.
  • 38,329 people died of drug overdoses in 2010. 16,651 of these involved prescription opioids.
  • Since 1999, the number of people who have died from prescription drug overdoses each year has more than doubled.
  • 45 people die every day from overdoses of prescription pain relievers. This is twice the number of fatal overdoses from illegal drugs. It’s more than three times the number of people who die per day due to occupational injuries.
  • Drug treatment admissions for prescription opioids increased seven-fold between 1998 and 2010, from 19,941 to 157,171.
  • There are nearly two million people in the U.S. who are currently addicted to opioid pain relievers.
  • One in six teens have misused or abused prescription pain relievers in their lifetime.
  • Through the latter half of the 1990s and into the last decade, doctors, dentists and other providers prescribed opioid pain relievers more frequently as a part of patient care. From 2000 to 2009, the number of opioid prescriptions per 100 people increased by 35% and the number of morphine milligram equivalents prescribed doubled.

In a report distributed to attendees at its 2013 Congress and Expo, the NSC also points to this stat: States with the largest sales of opioid painkillers also have the highest mortality rates from them. (Read More from Source: SafetyNewsAlert.com)

Fred Hoiser