Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug overdoses are one of the fastest growing causes of injury deaths.  According to CDC, more than 15,000 people die annually from overdoses of prescription medicines. Prescription pain relievers contribute to more deaths than all illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine.

Most fatal drug overdoses result from pain relief medications also known as opioid analgesics. Opioids include: oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, fentanyl and buprenorphine. Mixing prescription pain medication with alcohol and/or over-the-counter pain medications increases the risk of a fatal overdose.

  • Among people 35 to 54 years old, unintentional drug overdoses cause more deaths than motor vehicle crashes.

  • More than 70 percent of people who abused prescription pain relievers report getting them from friends or relatives.

  • In 2010, more than 400,000 emergency room visits were made related to prescription pain relievers.

  • Nonmedical use of prescription painkillers costs health insurers up to $72.5 billion annually in direct health care costs.

National Safety Council is launching a new strategic initiative to confront this crisis on a national level.  Strong public-private partnerships are needed.  Learn more about how you can join with NSC and other leaders to prevent injuries and deaths from prescription medicines.