The war on drugs is nowhere near over, and we continue to lose our loved ones to illicit and prescription overdoses.
According to the CDC, in 2015, 47,055 people died from drug overdoses – 1.5 times greater than the number of people killed in car crashes. Typically it’s heroin and opioids that contribute to the majority of drug overdoses. Both are now killing more than 27,000 people each year.
Let’s understand more about accidental drug overdoses.
First, what is an accidental drug overdose? There are two different types of accidental overdoses – prescription drug overdoses and illicit drug overdoses. With prescription drug abuse being the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, it’s caused an increase in unintentional drug overdose death rates in recent years. Accidental prescription drug overdoses typically happen when a young child accidentally ingests medication, or when an adult mistakenly consumes an incorrect dosage of the prescribed medication. This is an accidental overdose.
What is an accidental drug overdose in terms of an illicit drug? An accidental overdose with an illicit drug can occur when one uses too much of a specific substance. The user’s metabolism cannot detoxify the drug fast enough to avoid unintended side effects, including overdose. How do we know if drug overdoses from illicit drugs are accidental? We really don’t, however, overdose deaths from illicit drugs are typically not a form of suicide.
With 47,055 people dying last year from drug overdoses, the government has recently taken steps to help in this deadly epidemic.
In August 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services announced $53 million in funding to 44 states, four tribes, and the District of Columbia to improve access to treatment for opioid-use disorders, reduce opioid-related deaths, and strengthen drug misuse prevention efforts. In addition, under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration is continuing to partner with communities and other agencies to prevent drug use and reduce overdose deaths. It’s not going to be an easy fight, and may take many years before we see the millions of funds and government partnership turn this epidemic around.
CDC Grand Rounds: Prescription Drug Overdoses — a U.S. Epidemic, January 13, 2012. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April, 2017.
Drug overdose deaths reach all-time high, December 18, 2015. Retrieved April, 2017.
Facts and Stats. Retrieved April, 2017.
HHS awards $53 million to help address opioid epidemic, August 31, 2016. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Retrieved April, 2017.