In 2013, 9 out of 10 poisoning deaths were due to drug overdose, with opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin accounting for 44% of those overdoses. This is to say that the most poisonous, fatally abused drugs are not illegal substances such as heroin or cocaine, but rather are the legal prescription drugs likely sitting in your medicine cabinet. This week is National Poison Prevention Week, a great opportunity to educate yourself about the risks and abuses of prescription painkillers.
According to the National Safety Council, 90% of opioid painkiller users are not concerned about addiction, though 60% of them present risk factors of addiction. Anyone can become addicted to these drugs, though, and the societal attitude that this kind of addiction cannot happen to you is central to the problem. Risk reduction is something you can take into your own hands. Consider talking to your doctor about alternative options, and if alternatives are not available, take painkillers for a short period of time and a low dose. Properly dispose of any leftover painkillers and if you do keep them, be sure they are locked up and not shared.
Click here to read more from Deborah Hersman for Huffington Post.