Abuse of prescription pain medications kill 15,000 people in the United States annually, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “We’re in the midst of an epidemic,” says CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.
Deaths due to prescription painkiller overdoses now exceed the number of heroin and cocaine overdose deaths combined and have tripled since 1999. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) describes deaths resulting from prescription drug painkillers overdoses as “our nation’s largest drug problem.”
According to recent data, 1 in 20 or 12 million Americans age 12 and older has misused prescription painkillers like oxycodone (e.g. Oxycontin®), methadone or hydrocodone (e.g. Vicodin®) and middle-aged adults have the highest overdose rates.
Health officials say that enough prescription painkillers were prescribed last year to medicate every adult every four hours for an entire month, and this type of drug abuse is costing insurance companies up to $72.5 million each year. Just a few months ago, the CDC reported that opioid pain medication abuse accounts for the most common poisonings treated in emergency departments and nearly 1 million people in the United States are currently addicted to some type of opiates.
Many are working to raise awareness, promote monitoring programs, track prescriptions and advocate for drug testing. For the complete CDC study, click here.
For more information about drug testing, visit our website.