Every day, 60 people die from opioid pain medications. That's 22,000 people every year.
Opioids are being overprescribed. And it is not children reaching in medicine cabinets who have made drug poisoning the #1 cause of unintentional death in the United States. Adults have been prescribed opioids by doctors and subsequently become addicted or move from pills to heroin.
Perhaps even more alarming: 70 percent of people who have abused prescription painkillers reported getting them from friends or relatives. Most people don't know that sharing opioids is a felony.
Where Do Opioids Come From and What Is the Cost?
- Like heroin, opioid painkillers come from the poppy plant. Opioids contain morphine and codeine.
- In 2010, more than 400,000 emergency room visits were made related to prescription painkillers.
- In 2006, the estimated total cost in the United States of nonmedical use of prescription opioids was $53.4 billion, of which $42 billion (79 percent) was attributable to lost productivity.
- Four out of five new heroin users started by misusing prescription painkillers.
- Research indicates that four to six percent of prescription painkiller abusers will transition to heroin use.
Painkillers Don't Kill Pain; They Kill People
People who take opioid painkillers for too long and in doses too large are more at risk of addiction and more likely to die of drug poisoning. The numbers are staggering. In a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report, the Substance Abuse and Medical Health Services Administration said there are 4.3 million current nonmedical users of painkillers. Nearly 2 million people have painkiller substance use disorders.
People think taking opioids is the best way to treat pain. But the reality is other nonaddictive medicines are just as effective, including many over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
Learn How to Help Keep Loved Ones Alive
National Safety Council is here to provide answers for families, resources for employers and prescribers, and information to help keep you safe at home and in your community:
Source: National Safety Council
Employers are joining together in the discussion on opioids and its impact on the workplace. Don’t miss the upcoming half-day event The Opioid Epidemic – Is Your Workplace Prepared? on November 9th presented by MRA-The Management Association (MRA) and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP). This in-person and live-streaming event will provide employers with the tools they need to face the growing opioid epidemic in their workplaces. Sign up today!
About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council (nsc.org) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education, and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials, and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.
MRA is your partner in creating a safe work culture. We have a network of experts in Wisconsin, as well as partnerships with the Minnesota Safety Council and Iowa-Illinois Safety Council to provide safety services and training. Click here to learn more about the variety of resources available to keep your workers safe.