Doctors' Drugs Now More Lethal Than Street Dope? | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Doctors' Drugs Now More Lethal Than Street Dope?

The number of deaths from accidental prescription drug overdoses continues to skyrocket, killing more people than cocaine and heroin ODs combined.


Prescription ODs on the Rise.
Photo via thinkstockphotos

By Jeff Forester


| Share

On the nightly news we see the drama of drug busts, with cops rushing crack houses, their guns drawn, to protect the public good. But perhaps they are focusing on the wrong dealers. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry released a stunning report that unintentional overdose deaths in teens and adults have reached "epidemic" proportions. 27,500 people died from accidental drug overdoses in 2007, up from 26,400. The deaths are mostly due to prescription opioid painkillers, such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin. In 20 states, overdose due to prescription pain medication is the number one cause of injury deaths, outpacing automobile accidents and suicide. And 2007 was also the year that unintentional deaths from prescription drugs outnumbered accidental cocaine and heroin ODs combined.

Nationwide, unintentional overdose is the second leading cause of injury death. The reason for this epidemic? More doctors are prescribing more opioid painkillers to more patients. Dr. Matthew Monsein, pain management specialist from the Courage Center and Abbot Northwestern Hospital, told The Fix: “It is a lot easier for a doctor to start throwing out drugs, and then the doc gets to see the patient once a month for the rest of their lives because that is the way the law works; and the drug companies love it and it becomes an annuity, a fait accompli.” Despite the shocking statistics, most people still believe that if a doctor prescribes the medication, it is safe. Even among doctors who should know better, there is “still the perception that for people who have chronic non-cancer pain, it is appropriate to prescribe narcotics long-term.” In the short term, the number of accidental overdoses will continue to climb.  But the long-term consequences are more deeply troubling. Said Dr. Monsein, “We are creating a whole generation of people growing up addicted to opiates.”

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
Normies React to the 12 Steps

"I think admitting to having a problem in general is the right first step, but to admit powerlessness is unhealthy. .. I think admitting powerlessness is more harmful because it doesn't help. Admitting that you want and need help is more useful after admittance."

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv