NSC warns against improper prescription painkiller use during
National Poison Prevention Week
Itasca, IL – Our nation’s most abused drug is legal and sitting in
the medicine cabinet. Fatal drug overdoses are an epidemic, with opioid
prescription painkiller overdoses accounting for the majority of these deaths.
In observance of National Poison Prevention Week (March 16-22),
the National Safety Council
today released a list of startling facts many people do not – but need to –
know about prescription painkiller use:
Forty-five people die every day
from opioid prescription painkillers – more deaths than heroin and cocaine
In 2010, enough prescription
painkillers were provided to medicate every American around the clock for an
More than 70 percent of people who
abused prescription pain relievers got the pills from friends or relatives.
Only about 5 percent got the painkillers from a drug dealer or from the
The U.S. contains only 4.6 percent
of the world’s population but consumes 80 percent of the world’s opioids and 99
percent of the world’s hydrocodone.
While middle-aged men and women
have the highest prescription painkiller fatal overdose rates, the rates are increasing
most rapidly among women. Overdose death rates in women have increased more
than 400 percent since 1999, compared to 265 percent among men. Teen use also
is rising. One in eight high school seniors admit to using prescription
Prescription painkillers are
gateway drugs to heroin. In 10 years of treating patients for substance abuse
and addiction, NSC Medical Advisor Dr. Don Teater reports having just one
patient whose prescription painkiller addiction began with a heroin addiction.
All other patients have first been addicted to painkillers and switched to
heroin because it is cheaper.
Heroin overdose deaths receive
significant media attention. But while these deaths increased 45 percent from
2006-2010, prescription painkiller deaths have risen by more than 300 percent
“The number of fatal prescription painkiller overdoses is
staggering and unacceptable,” said John Ulczycki, vice president of strategic
initiatives at NSC. “We need immediate action at the local, state and federal
levels. National Poison Prevention Week is the perfect time to begin a dialog
about how to address this issue so we can save lives.”
According to the NSC report, Prescription Nation,
47 states are failing to adequately address nonmedical prescription painkiller
use. NSC examined state efforts in four areas: state leadership and action,
prescription drug monitoring programs, responsible painkiller prescribing and
overdose education and prevention programs.
About the National Safety Council
Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety
is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save lives by preventing
injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through
leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by
partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the
public in areas where we can make the most impact – distracted driving, teen
driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities.