Opioid Deaths in the United States

The United States has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Opioid related overdose deaths in the last decade with certain states continuing to climb in numbers astronomically. The CDC estimates 40 people die every day in the United States from prescription opioid overdose.

Opioids are a group of drugs that effect pain receptors of the brain and other parts of the body. They can include prescription drugs that are natural and semisynthetic, like OxyContin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone and ‘synthetic’ opioids like Methadone, fentanyl and tramadol. While the number of related deaths due to natural and semisynthetic continues to rise, the number of deaths related to fentanyl and methadone is skyrocketing. From 2014 to 2015, the number of fentanyl and synthetic opioid related deaths in the U.S. rose 72.2% with some states recording as high as a 135% increase.

CDC Estimates Half of Opiod Related Deaths Involve Opioid Prescriptions

The CDC estimates that at least half of opioid related deaths involve prescription opioid painkillers. From 2014 to 2015, an estimated 1 out of 5 patients with non-cancer pain or pain-related diagnoses are prescribed opioids in office-based settings. Prescribing rates are highest among pain medicine, surgery, physical medicine/rehabilitation, and primary care providers who account for about half of opioid pain relievers prescribed. In 2012, health care providers in the highest-prescribing state wrote almost 3 times as many opioid prescriptions per person as those in the lowest prescribing state even though health issues that cause people pain do not vary from state to state and therefore does not account for the discrepancy in the states prescribing high numbers of opiates.

While the worst states are taking steps to relieve the situation, numbers are still climbing. The crises came to the light in 2000 with no steps being taken to control it until just recently when doctors were told of the dangerous side effects of prescribing opiates long term. The director of the CDC, Thomas Frieden, stated in 2016, “We know of no other medication routinely used for a nonfatal condition that kills patients so frequently,” and “these are really dangerous medications that carry the risk of addiction and death.”

If you have any questions or think you or your family has been effected by the over prescribing of prescription opioids resulting in death or injury, please call us at 866-599-2222 or 618-272-2222 in Illinois and at 314-542-2222 in Missouri.

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