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Prescription Pain Killer Deaths Triple

Posted Nov 02 2011 4:32pm


Street drugs like heroine and cocaine have lower death incident

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) new report reveals almost 40 Americans equaling around 15,000 each year die of drug overdoses and not from street drugs. These overdoses are coming from prescription pain killers such as OxyContin and Vicodin.

Death from prescription drugs in 2008, totaled to 36,450 in which 20,044 of these deaths had involved more than one prescription drug. In the report which appears in the journal of Morbidity and Morality Weekly Report, the CDC had written pain killers such as opioid, oxycodone, methadone and hydrocodone had been involved in 14,8000 deaths.

Drug sales have skyrocketed along with the death tolls which had increased four times from 199 to 2008.

Last year, opioid pain killers had been used by 4.8% of Americans non-medically age ranging twelve years and up. Non-medically means without a prescription or just using the drug to feel the effect. The report calculations had shown that last year the opioid pain killer sold were enough to medicate every adult American with a usual dose of five milligrams of hydrocodone every four hours  for one month.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC, commented during a telebriefing to discuss these latest findings that “we are in the midst of an epidemic of prescription narcotic drug overdose.” Even officials agree the problem is becoming worse.

Dr. Frieden remarks the problem comes from a few irresponsible doctors and not the drug pushers on the street.

Curbing the epidemic

The Obama Administration in April announced their plan geared at decreasing the rates of prescription opioid overdose by 2015 in a 15% decrease.

Their plan is to broaden the statewide prescription drug monitoring program (PMDP’s).

These programs dispose of painkillers safely along with providing better education for both patients and providers.

The program electronically monitors prescriptions for painkillers in each state. The only two states in which do not have one implemented are Missouri and New Hampshire. Other states including District of Columbia are attempting to figure out how to get theirs up and running.

Concerning the PMDP’s Dr. Scott Fishman, professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine at the University of California-Davis and president of the board of the American Pain Foundation remarked that the program can be effective at refraining misuse however, they are not totally foolproof.  Dr. Fishman does advocate for education of both patients and practitioners.

Dr. Fishman points out among the problems with the program are trying to get the states to finance them. The other issue is they are statewide and not nationally linked. Leaving the opportunity to go across state lines. He further notes the federal government needs a stronger program in place that can monitor usage.

Another problem he sees is these programs can be too strict leaving doctors afraid to write the prescriptions. He believes that a large part of the responsibility is the providers who are not properly trained.

Patients that receive treatment for chronic pain should understand the addictive nature of these medications and take steps to lower the risks of being addicted to them and not letting others have them.

Dr. Fishman remarks patients need to keep them away from individuals that may not use them safely keep the medications locked up and do not take with alcohol or other sedatives. Be aware of other disorders that could prompt the pain.

Dr. Patricia Baumann, assistant professor of anesthesiology at Emory Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia stated there are conservative therapies available such as non-narcotic pain killers.

There are many options to control pain that do not involve narcotics.

Chiropractic is effective in decreasing numerous types of pain and be especially useful for chronic pain. Chiropractic doctors are trained in numerous therapies when it comes to chronic pain. They are also trained in nutritional supplements, minerals and other supplements to help strengthen the overall treatment.

In 1958, both the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association recognized hypnotherapy as a valid medical procedure. Since 119, the National Institutes of Health has recommended hypnotherapy for the treatment of chronic pain.


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