The Opioid Epidemic

During 2000-2014, almost 500,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. Opioid overdose deaths hit a record high in 2014, with a 14% increase in just one year, according to new data published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Such deaths include those from commonly prescribed opioid pain relievers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.

“The increasing number of deaths from opioid overdose is alarming,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “The opioid epidemic is devastating American families and communities. To curb these trends and save lives, we must help prevent addiction and provide support and treatment to those who suffer from opioid use disorders.”

How can you help prevent dependence on opioid pain relievers?

  • See only one doctor (do not doctor shop) unless your doctor refers you to a specialist. If that is the case, make sure all of your medical records from the referral are sent from your original doctor.
  • If you have addictive tendencies, have an open and honest dialogue with your doctor anytime you are thinking of asking for painkiller prescriptions.
  • Use just one pharmacy. This will assist in holding you accountable to not overfilling your prescription narcotic medications.
  • Whenever possible, take over-the-counter medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, for pain.
  • Develop a strong support system. Talk to your spouse or other family members. Let them know you are struggling and that you need them to help hold you accountable.

Epidemics such as this one are 100% preventable. However, we need to make ourselves accountable for ou own actions. Also, if you see a family member or friend struggling with addiction or addictive tendencies, talk to them. Let them know you care and will help them in any way you can.