From Thrive Global.
Opioid overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States
by Andrew Kolodny, MD
Twenty years ago, opioid overdose deaths in the United States were rare. Today, they are the leading cause of accidental death, surpassing motor vehicle crashes. In 2016, more than 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose, a figure that exceeds in one year the total number of Americans killed during the entire Vietnam war.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been clear for several years about the cause of our nation’s opioid addiction epidemic. It has shown that a sharp increase in opioid overdose deaths and addiction paralleled an increase in opioid prescribing. In other words, the CDC is saying the opioid crisis was caused by overprescribing of opioids. The medical community did not start prescribing opioids more aggressively out of malicious intent. For most of us, it was a desire to treat pain more compassionately that led to overprescribing. To bring this public health crisis under control, doctors must prescribe more cautiously.