Opioid overdose death facts can be hard to swallow. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Drug Overdose Deaths data, 68,500 Americans died as a result of drug overdoses in 2018. This number reflected a slight decline, and there was also a slight decline in opioid deaths, but despite this slight decline, thousands of Americans are struggling with addiction to opioids.
Here is what you need to know about the rise of opioid overdose deaths.
Opioids Are the Leading Cause of Overdose Death in the United States
Between 1999 and 2014, drug overdose deaths tripled. According to the CDC, 60% of those overdoses involved opioids, making it the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in the country.
Opioids include commonly prescribed pain medication such as oxycodone and fentanyl, as well as illicit drugs such as heroin. These drugs are highly addictive, and patients build up a tolerance over time, which means they require more of the drug to feel relief. This can increase the risk of overdoses.
Someone Dies Every 11 Minutes from an Opioid Overdose
According to the Attorney General, opioids kill someone every 11 minutes in the U.S., and the CDC reports that a total of 47,600 people in the United States died in 2017 from an opioid drug overdose. That is an increase of nearly 39,000 from 1999, when just over 8,000 people died due to opioid overdose. Preliminary data from the CDC found a small decrease of opioid overdose deaths in 2018.
Less than 10% of People Who Need Treatment for Drug Use Seek Treatment
According to the World Health Organization (WHO)’s information on opioid overdose, over 90% of people who struggle with opioid dependence never seek treatment for their addiction.
More importantly, there has been a steady rise in deaths at substance abuse treatment centers due to a lack of medical training and supervision. In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has reported 3,362 deaths in inpatient, outpatient, and addiction treatment centers in 2015.
Four in Five Heroin Drug Users Abused Prescription Pain Medication First
Opioids work by blocking the pain sensors in the brain and spinal column. For patients recovering from major medical procedures like surgery, these drugs can make the healing process much easier. However, these drugs are also highly addictive. In fact, four in five heroin users began abusing prescription pain medication before moving on to heroin.
What You Can Do as Opioid Overdose Deaths Rise
The statistics associated with opioid overdose death facts are alarming and troubling. While the rise may be in part due to drug companies pushing their drugs, but there is also an issue with people failing to understand how addictive these drugs can be.
Here are the steps you can take to protect yourself and your family:
- Only take opioid painkillers under the guidance of a doctor.
- Never take more than the recommended dosage.
- Dispose of leftover drugs properly at a drug take back event or a similar location near you. (Many police stations have a drop box for excess prescription drugs.)
- Never give prescribed medication to another family member or friend. They should only take opioids under the guidance of a medical professional.
Sticking to your doctor’s recommendations and taking the drugs for as short of a period as possible can reduce the risks of addiction and overdose death.
Contact the Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Today
Overdose deaths occur for a variety of reasons, including accidental overdoses and medical malpractice events. If a loved one has suffered an opioid overdose due to a doctor, pharmacist, or other medical professional’s negligence, you may be eligible to seek compensation. For example, if a doctor prescribed an incorrect dosage or a pharmacist gives a stronger dose than prescribed, they may be held liable for a patient’s overdose.
If these opioid overdose death facts hit close to home and you want to learn more, contact Pintas & Mullins at (888) 808-5977 for a free case review. Our legal team can determine if medical malpractice played a part and build a case for compensation.