Most ER Overdoses are Caused by Prescription Painkillers
According to a recent report from JAMA Internal Medicine, 68% of Emergency Room overdose treatments are for prescription pain medications in the past decade. These include opioid drugs like morphine, methadone, hydrocodone, and oxycodone, which are all prescribed by doctors for chronic pain or medical recovery. 2010 saw 92,200 hospital visits for these drugs, costing an estimated total of $1.4 billion! That’s a lot of cheddar to shell out for a quick rush of feel-good chemicals!
We could speculate endlessly as to the causes behind these numbers but the reality is that doctors are prescribing medications at record rates all across the Western world. Scientists and researchers looking into the addiction epidemic have suggested mainstream medicine look into alternatives to opioid prescriptions to limit the dependency people are developing. Deaths from painkillers quadrupled in the first decade of the Millennium, making drug overdose the leading cause of injury-related death in America (more than car accidents)! That’s an insane leap and makes painkilling medications a more dangerous problem than heroine or meth.
Obviously, there are political and economic strings being pulled to flood the market with these drugs. Unlike Schedule 1 drugs that are controlled by black market cartels, prescription drugs are controlled by large pharmaceutical corporations who make record profits every year from these prescriptions. These drug companies flood the inbox of every doctor in the nation with special offers and promotions and they fund research programs that look into the effects of these drugs. It’s a dangerous game of lobbying and monopoly that puts the people in our lives in danger of addiction and drug-related overdose.
But while we work to correct the socio-political situation around controlled drug trafficking, the real fight is in our homes and neighborhoods. Every small town in the US has a network of pill trade that seems harmless but is actually killing off thousands of people every year. We have to communicate with one another and keep the dialogue open about drug use and addiction. If you know someone with a prescription pill addiction, get help from a professional recovery facility before the issue goes to the police or the emergency room.