Combating the Prescription Drug Crisis

Drug overdoses—predominantly from opioid painkillers such as Oxy Contin and Percocet—now exceed car crashes as the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States. Perhaps that’s not surprising, considering sales of prescription opioid painkillers in the U.S. have risen a shocking 300% since1999. In 2014, the number of opioid overdose deaths—including those from prescription pain relievers as well as from the cheaper “street” alternative, heroin—rose a record 14% from the previous year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). In an effort to combat the opioid epidemic, the CDC has proposed new prescribing guidelines for doctors, urging them to try other pain relief methods before turning to opioids. Despite the widespread nature of the problem, a lot of employers don’t have the information they need to address this issue,” says Don Teater, medical advisorto the National Safety Council. The stigma of substance abuse keeps many people from seeking treatment.

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