Prescription drug overdose has emerged to become a public health problem of national concern. The number of people who die as a result of prescription narcotics overdose has risen to more than 20 thousand people annually and these numbers continue to rise every day. Opioids and prescription opiates account for the majority of narcotics overdose related problems and are the most common source of drug overdose deaths in the United States.
The number of unintentional drug overdoses has more than doubled in the past 5 years alone and accounts for more unintentional deaths than car accidents. A report published by the Centers for Disease Control shows that the increase in overdose related deaths is largely due to the increase of availability of prescription narcotics including opiates and opioids such as:
Prescription overdoses kill more people than heroin and cocaine which is why many states have come together as well as the Centers for Disease Control and the DEA to create task forces that aid in the prevention of illegal distribution of prescription medications and are working to reduce the number of prescription narcotics overdose related deaths and incidents through greater control and prescription monitoring programs.
Overdosing on prescription painkillers can lead to:
- Labored breathing
- Heart attack
- Gasping for air
- Vomiting while asleep and choking to death
- Inability to wake up
Of course the most notable danger associated with a narcotics overdose is death which can and often does occur as a result of taking dangerous prescription painkillers. The sad truth is that in many cases, the overdose deaths that occur as a result of prescription narcotics are the result of a patient abusing a drug that was legally prescribed to them by a doctor or pain management specialist. Prescription drugs account for more than 50% of all overdose related deaths in the United States and they cause nearly 2 million overdose related emergency room admissions every year.
Some states have responded to the dangerous abuse of prescription drugs by implementing task force monitoring programs which keep track of the sale of prescription narcotics such as painkillers, opiates, benzodiazepines and similar substances. Recent increases in the number of overdose related deaths throughout the country have resulted in an increase in the presence of prescription monitoring programs that are supported by the Department of Justice through the Harold Rogers Program. With this support, many states have been able to better monitor prescription drug abuse and have seen a decrease in the number of prescription related overdoses.