According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a global event that’s held on August 31st each year. “It is estimated that globally there were between 98,300 – 231,400 drug-related deaths in 2013 with opioid overdose the largest category.” The goal of IOAD is to raise awareness of overdose and acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends of those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose. The NCADD website encourages the public to wear silver in support of the cause.
The CDC didn’t have information available for 2015, but the statistics they had for 2014 were astounding. They state, “Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids.”
Let’s look a little closer at the statistics. There were approximately 16,000 deaths involving prescription opioids in 2013. This number jumped drastically to almost 19,000 in 2014. The American Society of Addiction Medicine claims that drug overdose was “the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 47,055 lethal drug overdoses in 2014. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 10,574 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2014. Of the 21.5 million Americans (age 12 or older) that had a substance use disorder in 2014, 1.9 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 586,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin.”
CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden states that “the opioid epidemic is devastating American families and communities. To curb these trends and save lives, we must help prevent addiction and provide support and treatment to those who suffer from opioid use disorders." Thankfully, government officials agree. “Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) bill. The bill is now headed to the Senate and then to President Obama for his signature. CARA would expand prevention and education initiatives, strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs, expand availability of naloxone and provide necessary training to expand treatment for opioid and heroin addiction.”
This is great news and hopefully a huge step forward in seeing a decline in the number of preventative opioid deaths in the coming years. Let’s do all that we can to educate ourselves on the proper use of prescription opioids.