As illicit drug use increases worldwide so too do the deaths relating to overdose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2010 there was an increase in accidental deaths due to overdose from 37,004 deaths recorded in 2009 to the 38,329 deaths recorded in 2010. This increase makes the 11th year that there has been an increase in the numbers within the United States.
The Role of Opioids in the Increase
Within these numbers there has been a significant increase in deaths from opioids analgesics with deaths increasing from 4,030 in 1999 to 15,597 in 2009 and increasing to 16,651 in the year 2010. Out of the reported 2010 United States overdoses, nearly 60% were the result of taking too many pharmaceutical drugs with 3 out of 4 of these deaths being due to such Opioids analgesics as hydrocodone, oxycodone and methadone. This is clear proof that the Opioids are the most prominent source of drug overdoses in the United States.
Mental Health Medications Having a Responsibility
In addition to the opioids analgesics being the root of much of the drug overdose in the United States it has become evident that the over use of such drugs as those used for the treatment of mental health related issues. Some of these include benzodiazepines which are anti-anxiety medications.
These are believed to be responsible for at least 30% or 6,497 of the overdose deaths by mental health medications. Additionally, anti-depressants were responsible for approximately 18% or 3,889 of the deaths, and antipsychotic drugs were found to be responsible for 6% or 1,351 of the deaths relating to this type of drug.
It seems clear that patients with issues relating to mental health and substance abuse problems would be more likely to suffer an accidental overdose of prescription medications. It is believed that better screenings of patients as well as continued monitoring should be put into place for those “at risk” individuals.
Federal Government Attempts at Improvement
With such a dramatic increase in the instances of drug overdose deaths in the United States, there has been some federal governmental movement relating to this type of drug use including such things as better tracking systems for prescription drug overdoses in order to better understand the issue at hand as well as better education for prescribing health care providers relating to the risks for their patients.
In addition it has been suggested that there be more encouragement toward development of some abuse resistant formulations of various drugs that are risky for patients. It is also suggested that there be a requirement for all manufacturers of the extended release and long acting opioids provide easy access to programs to educate the prescribers on the risks involved in the use of these drugs.
State Government Attempts at Improvement
On the state level there has been additional work toward preventing accidental drug overdose such as tracking the improper prescribing of the various risk drugs as well as providing programs for insurance and workers’ compensation programs that help to educate the parties about the dangers of overdose. In addition, there has been some change by individual states regarding the actions taken when there is evidence of inappropriate prescribing.
There is too great a risk in this day and age for drug overdose, which results in death more often than not. Because there is such a likelihood that drug overdose and death will occur, now is the time to get help for a substance abuse problem.
If you are struggling with a substance abuse problem, or you suspect that someone in your life may be, then now is the time to reach out and find some help. The right substance abuse treatment is going to make all the difference in one’s ability to recover from substance abuse and addiction. Call us to get the ball rolling on your recovery today.