By Lauren VanDenBoom

August 31, 2020

With a global pandemic dominating the news cycle and changing our daily lives, it’s easy to forget about the other epidemic that kills Americans daily: opioid overdose. 

August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day, a global event to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug-related death. Overdose death is preventable and is still occurring in spite of COVID-19. In observance of the day, we want to call attention to the impact opioid misuse has in the United States, as well as resources for learning more. 

In the coming weeks we will reintroduce the topic of opioid misuse in our conversations and in our blog because with attention, understanding, and vigilance, this epidemic too can be overcome. 

  • 128 people die every day from an opioid overdose. Forty-one of those deaths involve a prescription opioid. 
  • During 2018, there were 67,367 overdose deaths in the United States and 46,802 of those overdose deaths involved opioids.
  • Many opioid overdoses also involve other drugs.
  • Anyone who takes prescription opioids can become addicted to them. As many as one in four patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggle with opioid addiction.
  • An estimated 10.3 million Americans aged 12 and older misused opioids in 2018, including 9.9 million prescription pain reliever misusers and 808,000 heroin users.
  • More than 191 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed to American patients in 2017.
  • Responsible opioid prescribing practices that include risk assessment, checking the state’s prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), laboratory testing and patient education can prevent misuse that may lead to addiction and overdose. 
  • Opioid Stewardship Committees can be an effective way to start implementing consistent, responsible prescribing and vigilant monitoring practices in healthcare organizations. 
  • More information about opioid misuse and overdose can be found by visiting:
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