When you think of dangerous drug use, things like meth and heroin or cocaine probably spring to mind.
And while those three are certainly not vitamins by any stretch of the imagination, they’re no longer tops when it comes to overdosing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (or the CDC, as you might recall from the Walking Dead) has released new data that prescription painkillers are now more lethal than their street counterparts.
A 2010 study showed that one in 20 Americans admitted to using heavy duty painkillers for reasons that were considered “non-medical,” which is likely a factor in the three-fold increase in overdoses in the past decade. 40 people die each day from the US due to an overdose of painkillers, and CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD spoke in a press release about balancing access to the potentially deadly drugs to those who need them to function with the increasing danger of overdose among those with access to the medications:
“Overdoses involving prescription painkillers are at epidemic levels and now kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined. States, health insurers, health care providers and individuals have critical roles to play in the national effort to stop this epidemic of overdoses while we protect patients who need prescriptions to control pain.”
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a statement that the local level is a good place to start to begin reducing prescription painkiller deaths:
“Almost 5,500 people start to misuse prescription painkillers every day. Just like other public health epidemics, community–based prevention can be a proven, life–saving and cost–effective key to breaking the trend and restoring health and well–being.”