Painkiller Overdose Deaths Have Quadrupled In The U.S.

IMG_0323_r_JessicaNash PAGPhotographed by Jessica Nash.
As Americans, we already know we're kind of awful at taking sleeping pills. But, as the CDC's most recent unfortunate statistics suggest, we might be even worse at taking prescription opiates: The number of deaths due to painkiller overdoses has quadrupled in the past decade.
The CDC report, released yesterday, shows the terrifying number of U.S. deaths that have occurred because of narcotic painkiller overdoses since 1999. But, it also shows just how rapidly that number is increasing — from 1.4 to 5.4 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 and 2011, respectively. The medications in question include commonly-prescribed opioid analgesics such as morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone.
Interestingly, benzodiazapenes were also present in about a third of these deaths in 2011, indicating that we might be especially under-educated when it comes to drug combinations. And, methadone (a synthetic opioid often used to treat opioid dependency) was involved in over a quarter of these deaths.
However, it's important to note that these statistics take all drug-poisoning overdose deaths into account. That includes both intentional and unintentional overdoses, as well as people taking the wrong drug or the wrong amount of a drug. Since we're clearly already finding it difficult to be safe when taking opioid painkillers, we'll have to be extra careful when we can grow them ourselves in the near future.