In the middle of 2006, what many treatment professionals already knew finally came to be documented by a respected journal: prescription painkillers cause more drug overdose deaths in the United States than either cocaine or heroin.
Opioid painkillers include oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine and fentanyl. U.S. sales of these painkillers have increased over the past 15 years. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a parallel increase in the number of deaths from the drugs.
In 2002, drug overdoses killed more than 16,000 people in the United States.
Between 1999 and 2002, prescription opioids surpassed both cocaine and heroin as a cause of overdoses.
As people in long-term recovery from active addiction, our sober coaches and sober companions have a clear understanding of the differences between drug seeking behavior related to prescription pain-killers and such behavior related to “street drugs”.
A stumbling block for many people in early recovery is pain management. A sober companion can help you deal with uninformed or under-educated doctors and dentists who often miss the importance of carefully prescribing for recovering people.
The study, published in the Summer, 2006 issue of Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, found that total unintentional overdose deaths increased 5.3 percent each year between 1979 and 1990, and by 18 percent per year between 1990 and 2002.
Between 1999 and 2002, the number of overdose deaths linked to opioids increased by 91.2 percent, the researchers said, compared to 22.8 percent for cocaine and 12.4 percent for heroin.
The findings should not cause unwarranted fear among doctors or patients about using opioids for controlling patients' pain, but they do underscore the need for vigilance in the area of medication for recovering people.
Many every overdoses recorded in the study did not come from prescription abuse; the study noted that large quantities of opioid painkillers are stolen from pharmacies every year and that, "overdose deaths involving prescription medications does not necessarily mean they were prescribed. It is also crucial to know that most overdose deaths involve several drugs and these data cannot attribute the cause to a particular drug."
If you are in early recovery, or if you have a friend or loved one in early recovery, a Sober Coach or Sober Companion can maintain a watchful eye on daily movements and on doctor and dentist visits. Get the help you need to protect your recovery. You can hire a Sober Coach today.
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