Prescription Medication Overdoses Still Chief Cause of Accidental Deaths in U.S.
Around three people each hour lose their lives due to overdosing on prescription medications. In fact, more people die from prescription medication abuse or accidental overdose than many other causes, launching the problem to epidemic status. Add to that the rising numbers of senior adults who take incorrect dosages of prescription medications and teens or 20-somethings who find the drugs at home and experiment without knowing the dangers.
Chief medical correspondent from CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, commented on the severity of the problem in a recent article, especially the accidental overdose of prescription medications for pain. Experts believe thousands of Americans still don’t know how dangerous an overdose of these medications can be, despite public information campaigns and warning labels. Pain medications, specifically, may be linked to the most overdosages and fatalities. Popularly prescribed medications like Oxycodone and hydrocodone are strong and have addictive properties. When combined with alcoholic beverages or other medications, the results can be deadly.
Symptoms of an overdose on prescription medications may include trouble breathing or severely slowed respiration. Some people become extremely confused, sleepy and may experience hallucinations. Seizures and body tremors may also be present, and medical attention is needed immediately.
A double scenario may be at work when it comes to reasons people overdose on prescription pain medications. Over time, the ability of the medication to treat pain begins to lessen and patients may take more of the drug than is prescribed. At the same time, some experience greater levels of pain than before and may combat this with more medication.
Accidentally overdosing on prescription pain medications, especially opioids, has claimed more lives than the total of deaths from both cocaine and heroin. Methadone, commonly prescribed to treat addiction and also as a painkiller, may be linked to the highest number of accidental deaths, accounting for nearly one-third of all fatalities linked to prescription drugs.