When Priscilla Graham-Farmer went to get her hair done in Newark, N.J., recently, she noticed the elevator in the building was broken, so she took the stairs. And that's when Graham-Farmer saw him: a young guy sprawled out, not breathing.
"He was literally turning blue," she says. "And everybody was walking over him."
But Graham-Farmer stopped. And looked closer. She saw that he had a needle and some cotton balls. The guy had clearly overdosed.
State health officials hope to curb overdose deaths by using hospital data to target patients who have been admitted for previous overdoses but survived.
The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced plans Monday to offer rehab services and drug education to these patients—many of whom are expected to wind up in the hospital again. Doctors could also prescribe patients with the drug naloxone, an overdose-reversing drug. Read More
Consumer Reports recently published an article in the Washington Post detailing some facts and myths surrounding opioid painkillers like Percocet, Vicodin and Oxycodone. One of the biggest myths is that overdose occurs only in addicts. The fact is that 60% of opioid overdoses involved patients using legally prescribed drugs from a single prescriber. Another myth is that opioid painkillers are not addictive if used to treat pain. The fact is that between 5 and 25% of patients will become addicted with long term use. It is important for prescribers and patients to weigh the risks and benefits of using opioid painkillers, especially when treating chronic pain. Read More
The federal government tightened the prescribing for the most common form of painkiller in the country on Thursday, the final step in a policy shift that has been years in the making.
The stricter rule for hydrocodone, which is the most widely prescribed painkiller in the United States and which is an ingredient in drugs like Vicodin, is one of the most far-reaching efforts to stop the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse. More than 20,000 Americans die every year because of prescription drug abuse, according to federal data. Read More
Prescriptions for narcotic painkillers have surged in recent years. Fatal overdoses and abuse of the drugs have risen, too. Doctors and patients are grappling with how to balance the need for pain relief with the potential for trouble.
In April, Judy Foreman, author of A Nation in Pain, summed up the dilemma to NPR's Scott Simon. "We haven't been able to really ever get it right, in my opinion, and it's really been very tough on pain patients who legitimately need the medications," she said.
"And at the same time, the more prescription opioids there are floating around out there, the more people ... are abusing them. So it's colliding epidemics."
How do Americans see this issue? NPR and Truven Health Analytics conducted a nationwide poll to find out. Read More
Drug overdoses are usually thought to afflict mainly the poor and troubled. But it looks like OxyContin and other opioid painkillers are changing the picture.
People in stable, middle-class neighborhoods are also dying from opioid overdoses, a study in New York City finds.
Opioids have become among the most popular drug of abuse in the past decade, with deaths from overdoses of oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine eclipsing those from heroin and cocaine combined. Read More