Opioid Overdose Deaths Catch up to Motor Vehicle Deaths in the U.S

Opioid Overdoses surpass motor vehicle deaths in U.S.

It’s no surprise to learn from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that opioid overdose deaths have increased so much that they now exceed overdose deaths of heroin and cocaine combined. Death certificates from 28 states were analyzed and a report was published in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that explains how the data was analyzed.

The report tells us that the number of opioid overdose deaths has nearly caught up to the number of motor vehicle deaths (the number one cause of injury death in America) in the United States.

Heroin abuse is also on the increase. Most of those who abuse heroin have used opioids at some point in their past prior to their heroin use. Heroin is an opioid and they both produce similar effects, which explains why they are both abused by opioid addicts. Heroin is becoming much more readily available and is cheaper than pain pills, so many users turn to heroin because of this.

Although many people are well aware of this epidemic in our country, doctors continue to prescribe them to those who don’t need them. According to the CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.,

“Reducing inappropriate opioid prescribing remains a crucial public health strategy to address both prescription opioid and heroin overdoses.”

Knowing this, why are doctors continuing to overprescribe opioids?

One major reason is that they are not being held accountable for their actions. The responsibility placed on health-care providers is to only prescribe opioids for carefully screened and monitored patients when all other pain treatments have been exhausted. This is not what is going on, however.

The CDC report referred to above states that the increase in heroin deaths from 2010-2012 is directly related to the increase in the opioid death rate. It also states that not only do we need to stop the overprescribing opioids, we need to help those who are addicted before it is too late.

Doctors must examine patients more closely to determine whether there has been addictive behavior in the patient’s history. They also must monitor patients closely rather than quickly prescribing opioids as a band aid to cover up the real source of a patient’s pain. People are dying in increasing numbers needlessly because of this irresponsible behavior.

States are responsible for regulating health care practices like these, and they must monitor and remedy the overprescribing frenzy that has overcome us as a nation. They have tools readily available to them that can help them identify health care facilities that are illegally prescribing opioids.

Medicaid can use economic measures to take action and hold providers accountable. State professional licensing boards can take action against doctors who are misusing their licenses. Law enforcement agencies can take action against illegal activities. Policies can be put into place to prohibit “pill mills”.

All of these interventions are available, yet people are still needlessly losing their lives. Van Wey Law fights for clients who have lost their lives because of irresponsible doctors who are prescribing opioids when they are not needed. If you have lost a loved one from an opioid overdose because a health care facility or doctor irresponsibly prescribed the medication, you can receive compensation for your pain and suffering. More importantly, you can help to bring this reckless behavior to a halt and save lives. Call Kay Van Wey today for a free consultation.

photo credit: tankgirlrs via photopin cc


Why are Prescription Drug Overdoses Still Increasing a Decade Later?

Opening Article in Series: Solving the Prescription Drug Overdose Epidemic

Solving the Opioid and Heroin Overdose Epidemic

Opioid Epidemic Continues

Prescription drug overdoses and addiction, in particular opioids, are an epidemic in the United States. Each year, as it has for the past decade, the problem continues to increase.

Why are 16,917 people still losing their lives to opioid addiction?

Why has there been a continual increase from 4,030 deaths in 1999 to 16,651 in 2010?

Though it seems to be stabilizing, it’s not going down, and that’s bad news. This tragic epidemic is taking more lives each year than automobile accidents. Why doesn’t this warrant immediate action?

This is the first in a series of posts I will write that will examine the issue, those that play a role in in every part of an addict’s life, as I attempt to get to the bottom of the problem. These deaths are preventable and it’s time to take action and find a solution.

Troubling Trend

First, let me point out a troubling trend that seems to go hand in hand with opioid addiction, according to Leonard Paulozzi, MD, MPH, a physician and researcher with the CDC in Atlanta:

75% of heroin users say their addiction started with prescription opioids.

Deaths from heroin overdoses are on the increase as well, and it is believed that many opioid addicts turn to heroin when they can no longer obtain prescription opioids.

Doctors must do more.

Doctors could put the damper on the overdose increase by screening for patients who are doctor shopping by checking prescription drug monitoring programs in their states. They can also require urine screens to detect if patients are using illicit drugs. Doctors have got to do more, and we will examine this further within the series.

Lewis Nelson, MD, a toxicologist and emergency medicine specialist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, believes the continual increase rather than decline is seriously concerning. Although there is an obvious lag in the reporting of overdoses, we have known about this problem for long enough and it should have already been solved.

Other professionals say this growing number of opioid and heroine deaths is something that could have been predicted a decade ago.

Treatment has got to be as easily accessible as the pills or the heroine, and as of right now, it is not. There are not many medical specialists who are surprised by the number of deaths occurring. They’ve seen it coming.

All feel that we could have and should have been better prepared for this new trend of addicts moving from opioids to heroin.

Here we are in 2014 faced with a decade long trend that needs to stop. What can be done? Is it too late? Who is responsible?

Join me every Monday as we explore these tough questions in this informational series in hopes of finding a solution. We can all play a role in fighting this war against opioid and heroin addiction deaths. I think we all agree that something has got to be done to stop it today.

What are your thoughts on who is responsible?


CDC Reveals Concern: The Over Prescribing of Opioids by Physicians

Recently the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a Press Release showing its concern about the over prescribing by physicians of opioids. Data shows that most abusers who are at the highest risk for an overdose are obtaining the drugs from physicians more than other common sources.

For more than a year, ProPublica also has been looking at physicians’ prescribing practices. Their reports show that physicians’ methods for prescribing drugs greatly differ from one physician to the next. Some physicians order massive quantities of inappropriate, high risk drugs through Medicare.

Although the federal government is collecting data on every prescription, it seems they are not doing anything about the over prescribing, according to ProPublica. State and federal agencies must work together to end the opioid epidemic.

Information You Can’t Miss!

The purpose of Advokayte is to bring awareness to health issues so that you can take the best care of yourself and your loved ones. Below are some very informative blog posts that you may have missed. They deserve another peek because they contain very important you don’t want to miss! Click on each title to read the full article.

Also, please don’t hesitate to grab my free resource that will inform you of inside information about pharmaceutical drugs and companies, allowing you to protect yourself further…

prescription drug safety

Hormone Replacement Therapy Safety Warning

Kay Van Wey advocates caution while using HRT estrogen and progestin.

In 1991, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group published the book Women’s Health Alert. The evidence they provided showed that hormone replacement drugs containing estrogen caused breast cancer.  In the book, Public Citizen stated:  “Female replacement hormones may someday be remembered as the most recklessly prescribed drugs of this century.”

Non-medical Prescription Drug Use Among Adolescents

Rural adolescents are 26% more likely than urban adolescents use prescription drugs non-medically, according to a groundbreaking study that the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine published online this month.  Is your teen at risk? 

What You Should Know about Prescription Drug Addiction

pills Pictures, Images and Photos
In recent years, the United States has experienced a surge in the number of people addicted to prescription drugs, especially prescription painkillers. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is working to help change the perception of addiction and to help those who have become addicted…