Prescribed to Death

Facing an Everyday Killer

We are More Likely to Die From an Overdose Than a Vehicle Crash

For the first time in U.S. history, a person is more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than from a motor vehicle crash, according to National Safety Council analysis. The odds of dying accidentally from an opioid overdose have risen to 1 in 96, eclipsing the odds of dying in a motor vehicle crash (1 in 103). Millions of Americans have been directly impacted by the opioid crisis, but 40% still do not consider it to be a threat to their family, according to National Safety Council poll results.

In an attempt to end this persistent indifference, NSC launched the Prescribed to Death Memorial in November 2017 in Chicago. The memorial puts a face on the worst drug crisis in recorded United States history, personalizing an issue that has been declared a public health emergency.

The memorial visited Fayetteville, AR, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Buffalo, NY, and Washington, D.C., where it was displayed on the Ellipse in President’s Park at the White House. The sixth stop was Houston, at the 2018 NSC Congress and Expo.

“The most important thing about this crisis is not the statistics, but the faces,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The data speak to our head but the individual stories speak to our hearts. The Prescribed to Death memorial not only brings visitors face to face with this everyday killer, but also encourages actions that will help us eliminate these preventable deaths.”

NSC launched Prescribed to Death – a multifaceted exhibit aimed at changing Americans’ attitudes toward opioids – as a part of the Council’s Stop Everyday Killers public education campaign. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a wall of 22,000 engraved white pills – each representing the face of someone lost to a prescription opioid overdose.

The memorial is accompanied by resources that help visitors both safely dispose of unused pills in their homes and facilitate discussions with prescribers about alternatives. Visitors receive first-of-their-kind “Opioids: Warn Me” labels to affix to their insurance cards, empowering them to discuss with prescribers the risks of taking opioids and whether other pain relief options are available. The Council has partnered with Stericycle, a Chicago-based waste disposal company, to provide Seal&Send medication disposal envelopes to help visitors easily get rid of unused medications. The envelopes are safe, reliable and anonymous.

Individuals who have lost loved ones to opioid overdose had the opportunity to honor them at the exhibit by adding their loved one’s name to a digital memorial provided by the National Safety Council.

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