Multiple Chronic Conditions Blog

US Opioid Crisis and Current Legislation

Thursday, 23 February 2017 02:49 / by Dr Kim Kuebler

The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC, 2016) Report overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and increase in opioid analgesic sales. From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died in the U.S. from prescription opioid overdoses.

The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths include:

  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin®, Percocet®)
  • Hydrocodone (e.g.,Vicodin®, Loracet®)

Overdose Deaths

Among those who died from prescription opioid overdose between 1999 and 2014:

  • Overdose rates were highest among people aged 25 to 54 years.
  • Overdose rates were higher among non-Hispanic whites and American Indian or Alaskan Natives, compared to non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics.
  • Men were more likely to die from overdose, but the mortality gap between men and women is closing.

Additional Risks

Overdose is not the only risk associated with prescription opioids. Misuse, abuse, and opioid use disorder (addiction) are potential dangers.

  • As many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long term for noncancer pain in primary care settings struggle with addiction.
  • Every day, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.
  • In 2014, almost 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids.

Policy and Practice Changes:

Dr Kim Kuebler

Written by Dr Kim Kuebler

Dr. Kim Kuebler is the Medical Team Leader for Ortho Sport and Spine Physicians, Savannah, GA. She is an Adult Nurse Practitioner graduate from Emory University's School of Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice graduate from Vanderbilt University.