“Today’s announced changes to the labels of opioid products will finally reflect what we have known about these drugs for decades – they are dangerous and addictive and can lead to dependency, overdose, and death.”
~ Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey
Prescription drugs can ease extreme pain or even be a lifesaver for patients in need, but when people misuse or abuse these medications, there can be serious risks to an individual’s health and life. 40 Americans die every day because of prescription medication overdoses.
“Strongest Warning” Issued
In recognition of this problem, the US Food and Drug Administration will begin requiring prominent “black box” warnings on immediate-release opioid painkillers. The purpose is to make users clearly aware of the potential risks for misuse/abuse, dependency, addiction, and potential fatal overdose.
Specifically, the labels will indicate that opioid painkillers should only be used as a “last resort”, when there are no other effective treatments available. Also, they will pointedly note that taking opioid painkillers during pregnancy can cause a condition that is potentially life-threatening to babies.
These warnings are to be placed on packages for immediate-release painkillers, which are fast acting drugs that are taken every few hours.
This is a follow-up to 2013’s decision to place warnings on extended-release pain medications, which are typically taken once or twice daily.
FDA Commissioner Robert Califf says, “The FDA remains steadfast in our commitment to do our part to help reverse the devastating impact of the misuse and abuse of prescription opioids.”
San Diego County – Thousands Affected
According to the Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force, the abuse of prescription medications – particularly opioid painkillers such as Percocet or Vicodin –is a major problem in San Diego. Addiction treatment centers have admitted almost 75,000 people for prescription opioid painkiller abuse within the last five years.
Let’s take a look at some other worrisome statistics:
- Between the years 2010 and 2014, nearly 1300 San Diego residents died because of unintentional prescription-related causes.
- In 2013, there were 5723 emergency room discharges related to prescription painkillers– almost double the number in 2010.
- Approximately 40% of arrestees in San Diego County self-report the misuse of prescription medications.
- Over the past five years, close to 5 MILLION prescription pain pills were dispensed in San Diego County – more than 36 per person.
If you have questions because you are worried that you or someone you care about is abusing prescription opioid painkillers, make a call to a professional intake specialist at Lasting Recovery today.
The Lasting Recovery outpatient drug addiction treatment program in San Diego offers the latest evidence-based and wellness-focused substance abuse treatment protocols that can help you restore balance, sobriety, serenity, and sanity to your life.
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2015 Status of Prescription Drug Abuse in San Diego County Report, Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force