Prescription Drug Abuse Results in One Death Every 19 Minutes in U.S.

One person dies every 19 minutes from prescription drug abuse in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An estimated 27,000 unintentional drug overdose deaths occurred in 2007, UPI reports.

The rise in unintentional drug overdose deaths has been driven by an increase in use of opioids, the CDC notes in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. For every unintentional overdose death linked to opioids, nine people are admitted for substance abuse treatment, 35 people go to the emergency room, 161 report drug abuse or dependence, and 461 report non-medical uses of opioids.

The rate of opioid misuse and overdose deaths are highest among non-Hispanic whites, men ages 20-64, and poor and rural populations.

The CDC says the two main groups at risk for prescription drug overdose are the nine million people who report long-term medical use of opioids, and the roughly 5 million who have used opioids without a prescription or medical need in the past month.

13 Responses

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    February 17, 2012 at 3:24 AM

    One must wonder how suicide by overdose factors into this data. From what I have read here and on the CDC article it seems opioids are the biggest culprit in the prescription med overdose epidemic. I do not like the broad and sweeping statement that “Prescription Drug Abuse Results in One Death Every 19 Minutes in U.S.” when it is stated quite clearly “The rise in unintentional drug overdose deaths has been driven by an increase in use of opioids, the CDC notes in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.”. I do not disagree there is an issue but I take offense to these cut and dry statements. Not all people who take prescription drugs abuse them. I, for one, do not.

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    RJs Mom

    February 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    That’s BS. A kid can get my hands on prescription pills on the street in 15 minutes, yet I have to fight tooth and nail to get an antibiotic. How many people are dropping dead or visiting ERs from OD on antibiotics? Please tell me because I can’t get an antibiotic when I’m sick and see my doctor. What’s wrong with this picture? We care more about the millions of drug addicts that might be prevented from from their drug of choice by taking methodone or suboxone. So tell me how many are cured since we are so concerned? Obviously not many since they are the ones selling them on the streets to get their heroin. Who cares if someone dies every 19 minutes or not. One person is too many, but that’s not important. We are more concerned about numbers or the drug addict who is selling their pills. You can all argue over your one in 19 minutes all day long, it doesn’t matter. Half of this isn’t even reported. The death certificate of someone who dies as a result of prescription drugs doesn’t always says Overdose, it says adverse reaction to drugs. You don’t have to take 30-50 pills to die. It could be a xanax, suboxone and alcohol. Ask my son. I’m sorry, you can’t. He died 4 years ago when he was 17. And I got news for you honey, your Patients who were looking for their meds on the street weren’t in pain. They were addicts looking for meds when their doctors wouldn’t prescribe them anymore.

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    Linda Cheek, MD

    January 21, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    I wonder how many of those accidental overdoses are due to the fact that the US policy is forcing legitimate pain patients to the street for treatment. They get dosed more than they need, not knowing anything about treatment. I know of several of my patients that have died that were legitimate pain patients taking their medications correctly for years until there weren’t any doctors in the area willing to prescribe opiates. But since our government now has a policy of legal genocide of the disabled, elderly and poor, they probably don’t mind.

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    Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD

    January 20, 2012 at 10:57 PM

    Why is it that nobody questions the validity of CDC data? Are they really being unbiased and fair balanced, or are they using their “bully pulpit” to futher an agenda?

    For example, there is at present no clear definition of an opioid-caused unintentional death, yet they act as if they have accurate data. I wrote about this last November when the CDC propaganda first came out.

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