The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report yesterday showing U.S. deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.
In the report, drug-related poisoning jumped from 1.4 per 100,000 in 1999 to 5.4 per 100,000 in 2011. The drugs that account for the most deaths were semisynthetic opioid analgesics, such as hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone.
Hydrocodone relieves moderate to severe pain as well as coughs. Morphine is commonly prescribed before or after surgery to help alleviate pain and oxycodone is used to relieve pain from injuries — as well as arthritis, cancer, and other conditions.
From 2006 to 2011, deaths involving benzodiazepines increased an average of 14 percent per year, contributing to 31 percent of deaths. Benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety drugs that are used to treat panic disorders.
The report shows that in the last 10 years adults aged from 55 to 64 and non-Hispanic whites experienced the greatest increase in the rates of opioid-analgesic poisoning deaths.
The report said, “Drugs—both illicit and pharmaceutical—are the major cause of poisoning deaths, accounting for 90 percent of poisoning deaths in 2011. Misuse or abuse of prescription drugs, including opioid-analgesic pain relievers, is responsible for much of the recent increase in drug-poisoning deaths.”
Here are a few tips the CDC suggest to avoid drug overdosing or poisoning:
- Never tell children medicine is candy to get them to take it, even if your child does not like to take his or her medicine.
- Dispose of unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drug.
- Never share or sell your prescription drugs.
- Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers.
- Turn on a light when you give or take medicines at night so that you know you have the correct amount of the right medicine.
- Never take larger or more frequent doses of your medications, particularly prescription pain medications, to try to get faster or more powerful effects.