The cost of not taking these critical steps is clear:
Overdoses of prescription painkillers (also called opioid or narcotic pain relievers) have more than tripled in the past 20 years, killing more than 15,500 people in the United States in 2009.
Overdose deaths are only part of the problem—for each death involving prescription painkillers, hundreds of people abuse or misuse these drugs:
- Emergency department visits for prescription painkiller abuse or misuse have doubled in the past 5 years to nearly half a million.
- About 12 million American teens and adults reported using prescription painkillers to get “high” or for other nonmedical reasons.
- Nonmedical use of prescription painkillers costs more than $72.5 billion each year in direct health care costs.