The rise of prescription drug deaths concerns public health officials as statistics released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show how deaths have quadrupled between 1999 and 2011. In the year 1999, there were 4, 263 deaths linked to opioid drugs, by 2011 the number increased to over 17,000.
The report also showed that the age group with the greatest death increase due to prescription drugs were Americans between the ages of 55 and 65 years old.
When most people hear that drugs accounted for 90 percent of injury-related deaths in 2011, the temptation is to think of substances such as cocaine or heroin. Instead, opioids are to blame for the high number of drug related deaths.
An estimated 70% of people who misuse prescription painkillers for the first time report obtaining the drugs from friends or relatives, including home medicine cabinets, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The report released by CDC shows that the most common painkillers can have serious consequences. Officials are doing their best to tackle the opioid drug problem with strategies like prescription drug monitoring programs and limiting the number of pills dispensed.
Everyone has a part to play including parents, students, patients and doctors. Doctors must emphasize to the patient the risks involved while taking these drugs.Opioids are addictive.
“Opioids are a last resort and should be used when nothing else works,” Waldman said. “All they do is provide symptomatic relief without relieving the underlying cause of the pain.”