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National Safety Council poll: Nearly 70 percent of prescription painkiller users do not know sharing medication is a felony

In most states, sharing narcotic opioid painkillers is
equivalent to selling heroin

Itasca, IL, Mar. 12, 2015 – Today the National Safety Council released a national public opinion poll showing nearly 70 percent of those who take opioid prescription painkillers do not believe sharing the medications is a felony. In reality, most states consider sharing narcotic opioid painkillers, such as hydrocodone or oxycodone, to be the legal equivalent of selling heroin – punishable by as many as seven years in prison.

The poll results are released in advance of National Poison Prevention Week, March 15-21.

“Forty-five people die every day from overdosing on prescription painkillers,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “These medications are federally controlled substances and gateway drugs to heroin. Sharing drugs is never worth the risk, especially when non-addictive, over-the-counter pain relievers are often better options.”

Other key findings from the public opinion poll include:

  • Nine in 10 opioid painkiller users are not concerned about addiction as a side effect, though 60 percent of users have at least one addiction risk factor
  • 69 percent of opioid painkiller users feel opioids are the most effective medications to treat pain, though research shows this is not true
  • Americans mistakenly believe gun violence, severe weather and commercial airline travel are more significant threats to their safety than opioid painkillers
  • Many Americans do not realize they have taken opioids

A full copy of the findings can be found at nsc.org/newsroom.

About the National Safety Council

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council, nsc.org, 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.

Contact: Kathy Lane
NSC Communications Director
(630) 775-2307
kathy.lane@nsc.org

​Contact the Media Team

(630) 775-2307
media@nsc.org

National Safety Council Mission

The National Safety Council eliminates preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.

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