The Problem

When used properly, prescription pain medications are an important and necessary component of pain management. However, misuse of these medications can lead to serious legal and personal consequences, including health problems and even death. Alarmingly, more people are losing their lives to prescription drug overdoses than ever before. It is a problem that continues to grow nationally and in Utah.

  • Deaths attributable to prescription opioid overdoses have more than tripled since 1999.(1)
  • The rate of opioid overdose deaths has been rising for Americans regardless of age or race.
  • Utah is particularly affected by prescription opioids.
  • Most Utahns who die a drug-related death suffer from chronic pain and take prescribed pain medications. (2)

This epidemic of opioid poisonings is strongly related to widespread and rising prescription opioid misuse and abuse. An estimated 12 million Americans over age 12 misused prescription opioids during the year 2010.(3)  In a 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, 24.5% of Utahns reported using some type of prescribed opioid during the previous year. (4)  Prescription opioid therapy, chronic non-cancer pain, high dose prescription opioids, and multiple prescriptions/pharmacies have been implicated as risk factors for overdose death.(5, 6)  Adults, children, men, women, rural and urban areas are all affected.  The most severely affected demographic group is White adult males.

References

  1. Opioid overdoses in the United States. Journal of pain & palliative care pharmacotherapy. 2012;26(1):44-7. PubMed PMID: 22448941. Epub 2012/03/28. eng.
  2. Lanier WA, Johnson EM, Rolfs RT, Friedrichs MD, Grey TC. Risk factors for prescription opioid-related death, Utah, 2008-2009. Pain Med. 2012 Dec;13(12):1580-9. PubMed PMID: 23137228. Epub 2012/11/10. eng.
  3. Opioid overdoses in the United States. Journal of pain & palliative care pharmacotherapy. 2012;26(1):44-7. PubMed PMID: 22448941. Epub 2012/03/28. eng.
  4. Lanier WA, Johnson EM, Rolfs RT, Friedrichs MD, Grey TC. Risk factors for prescription opioid-related death, Utah, 2008-2009. Pain Med. 2012 Dec;13(12):1580-9. PubMed PMID: 23137228. Epub 2012/11/10. eng.
  5. Paulozzi LJ, Kilbourne EM, Shah NG, Nolte KB, Desai HA, Landen MG, et al. A history of being prescribed controlled substances and risk of drug overdose death. Pain Med. 2012 Jan;13(1):87-95. PubMed PMID: 22026451. Epub 2011/10/27. eng.
  6. Lanier WA, Johnson EM, Rolfs RT, Friedrichs MD, Grey TC. Risk factors for prescription opioid-related death, Utah, 2008-2009. Pain Med. 2012 Dec;13(12):1580-9. PubMed PMID: 23137228. Epub 2012/11/10. eng.

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