According to a new study from the National Center for Health Statistics, death by prescription drug and painkiller overdose increased again in 2010, for the 11th consecutive year. A total of 38,329 people died of drug overdoses, and the study authors attribute the majority of deaths to opioids (which include painkillers like Morphine, Oxycodone, and Methadone). Sadly, the statistics aren’t all that shocking anymore: For over a decade, we’ve seen alarming death rates stemming from painkiller addiction and mismanagement of prescription drugs, but it’s still not all that hard to get and abuse prescription drugs.
The study’s findings are fairly bleak. Here are a few notable statistics to give you the idea:
- 38,329 people died of drug overdoses
- 57% of overdoses involved prescription drugs
- 75% of prescription drug deaths were accidental
- 17% of prescription drug deaths were suicidal
And opioids were involved in many deaths caused by overdosing on another drug, including antidepressants, antiepileptic drugs, and benzodiazepines.
The data for 2011 and 2012 may not be in yet, but it’s safe to assume that the trend has continued in the past couple of years. A recent study showed that pain killer abuse caused more deaths than cocaine and heroin use combined, and opiate addiction has been a controversial issue for many years. Last year, Michael Jackson’s death trial brought attention to substance abuse and drug abuse, but not much has changed in the way that prescription drugs and painkillers are administered through the medical system.
Meanwhile, many lawmakers have been preoccupied with preventing the number of deaths caused by birth control (that is, if you consider preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus death), and some pharmacies prefer to focus their energy on unlawfully withholding emergency contraception from customers.
Is anyone else wondering why we’re not more worried about controlling opiates than we are about Yaz?