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By jazz_music   2016 Nov 15, 7:37pm   2 links   776 views   6 comments   watch (1)   quote      

Car accidents are no longer the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States. According to a recent report published by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, this dubious distinction now belongs to drug poisoning. What's at the root of this trend? A river of prescription painkillers.

Top image via WBUR.

Indeed, the report suggests that the United States is in the midst of a painkiller epidemic. Every year, more people now die from analgesic pain relievers, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, than cocaine and heroin combined. Abuse is so bad these days that doctors are having difficulty keeping up with the demand.

Celebrity watchers don't have to be reminded that there's a problem going on. Recent deaths in which painkillers were implicated (in whole or in part) include Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Jay Bennett (ex-Wilco), Dana Plato, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and Anna Nicole Smith.

And if the latest statistics are to be believed, it's a problem that's likely to get worse before it's fully acknowledged as a widespread problem.

Sea change

The change atop the accidental death leaderboard officially happened back in 2008 when over 41,000 Americans died as a result of poisoning, compared to 38,000 vehicle traffic deaths. Of those, 90% were caused by drugs. It marked the first time since 1980 that car accidents were not at the top of the list.

October 26, 2015, CDC issued HAN 384 ( that alerted (1) public health departments, health care professionals, first responders, and medical examiners and coroners of the increase in fentanyl-related unintentional overdose fatalities in multiple states primarily driven by illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) (i.e., non-pharmaceutical fentanyl); (2) provided recommendations for improving detection of fentanyl-related overdose outbreaks; and (3) encouraged states to expand access to naloxone and training for administering naloxone to reduce opioid overdose deaths.

Comments 1-6 of 6     Last »

1   curious2   2016 Nov 15, 7:47pm     ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike   quote    

2   junkmail   2016 Nov 16, 7:18am     ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike   quote    

Is this in relation to another thread?

3   jazz_music   2016 Nov 16, 7:14pm     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

junkmail says

Is this in relation to another thread?

I don't claim to have any specific knowledge about the death of Turtledove.

Now that a vague explanation has been offered I can picture secondary causes for her fall such as
1. toys on floor
2. dog(s) laying in her path
3. black out after a midnight toke

This is just pointing out circumstances that are plausible to explain the fall.

Pain killers are killing more people these days than any other accidental cause, everybody should be conscious of that hazard regardless of other threads here.

4   everything   2016 Nov 16, 7:38pm     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

#1, heart, #2, cancer, #3, Iatrogenic=death by doctor

Didn't really realize how bad it was until earlier this year a family member got talked into a procedure (they didn't need in the first place, colonoscopy), sent home in massive pain (with a painkiller btw which also thins your blood and conks you out), bled out in their sleep, unable to awaken as well. Big loss, incredible lady..

5   curious2   2016 Nov 16, 9:09pm     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

junkmail says

Is this in relation to another thread?

We don't have any User's medical history, but people who suffer chronic migraines may be prescribed analgesics (including opiates and opioids) that can cause dizziness and loss of balance. Also, hospitals injure 20% of patients; in circumstances where the standard of care calls for hospitalization, that introduces additional risks.

I remain dismayed by the tragic loss of a true favorite on PatNet. Almost everyone liked her, and everyone should have.

6   Ceffer   2016 Nov 16, 10:31pm     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

If you consider opioid painkillers as a larger problem of addiction and impairment rather than a smaller problem of over prescribing, than there is a larger uncounted death toll.

Seldom is anybody is going to waste money to autopsy a junkie or an addict to establish a precise cause of death, toxicology etc. all of which are expensive. The stigma of addiction leads to a lot of 'causes of death' being attributed to something other than alcohol, nicotine, narcotics, stimulants etc.

Also, there is no counting the number of non-vehicular accidental deaths caused by individuals being impaired in one way or another. The deaths that are counted are just a percentage of a much bigger uncounted and unattributed number.

I doubt that opioid painkillers, taken as prescribed for the purpose they were intended, lead to many deaths. It is going to be the non-prescribed abuse.

The drug companies? All pushers know that addicts are a boon to profits.

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