The following information is from CDC website’s and it’s astonishing:
Drug overdose deaths continue to increase in the United States.
- From 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 people have died from a drug overdose.
- Around 68% of the more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid.
- In 2017, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl) was 6 times higher than in 1999.
- On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
A new study was just published today from the CDC, and it is even more shocking!
Among women aged 30–64 years, the unadjusted drug overdose death rate increased 260%, from 6.7 deaths per 100,000 population (4,314 total drug overdose deaths) in 1999 to 24.3 (18,110) in 2017. The number and rate of deaths involving antidepressants, benzodiazepines, cocaine, heroin, and synthetic opioids each increased during this period. Prescription opioid–related deaths increased between 1999 and 2017 among women aged 30–64 years, with the largest increases among those aged 55–64 years.
Polypharmacy is the simultaneous use of multiple drugs to treat a single ailment or condition. Providers are very used to prescribing medications, but we also have to be vigilant about discontinuing mediations as well. Patients see multiple specialists and sometimes due to busy schedules and inefficiencies in healthcare, the specialists don’t or can’t communicate with each other or the patient’s primary care. Or sometimes things just slip through the cracks. Polypharmacy sometimes happens during these inefficiencies. I have seen it in many of my rotations in medical school, residency and in my practice.
We physicians need to talk to our patients, get the full story and prescribe with caution. There are so many other options before using big-gun pharmaceuticals. There should be a thoughtful and rational methods for prescription medications, especially antidepressants and benzodiazepines. And we as physicians should help patients wean off medications, if that is what the patient wants.
What I see most is that patients are prescribed medications by another provider and no one wants to deal with the task of undoing someone else’s “mess”. It’s like a giant ball of yarn that is tangled–someone has to just sit down and untangle it. I am here for anyone that wants to unravel that tangled pile of yarn.
Pratistha Strong, D.O.
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