Opioids and Prescription Drug Abuse


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Most overdose deaths in Mississippi are accidental, caused by prescription drugs. Proper storage and disposal of medications can prevent injuries and deaths from drug abuse and drug overdoses.

Prescription abuse is taking any medication prescribed for someone else, or taking a higher dosage or in a manner than has not been prescribed.

Prescription drug abuse is a national epidemic – more than 115 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose. Opioids (including prescription opioids, fentanyl and heroin) killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, more than any year on record. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid. The rate of overdose deaths involving opioids has doubled since 2000, and southern states, including Mississippi, have the most prescriptions per person for opioid painkillers.

Who Is at Risk

  • Men were more likely to die from overdose, but the mortality gap between men and women is closing. CDC
  • Prescription drug abuse by women is rapidly rising. About 18 women die each day from prescription painkiller overdoses. CDC
  • Newborns whose mothers abused prescription drugs can suffer drug withdrawal problems (neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS). CDC
  • Children visit emergency departments twice as often for medication poisoning than for poisonings from household products. Pediatrics
  • As many as 1 in 4 adults who receive long-term opioid prescriptions for non-cancer pain struggles with lifelong addiction. CDC
  • Prescription medications are now the most commonly abused drugs among youth 12-13 years old. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
  • Teens’ ease of access to prescription medicines in the home is a key factor in drug misuse and abuse.
  • Soldiers and veterans surviving serious injuries are at increased risk for abuse of prescription painkillers. JAMA
  • Overuse of prescription painkillers for occupational injuries is becoming an epidemic in workers’ compensation systems. ACOEM

What You Can Do

Nationally, almost 70 percent of people who abused prescription drugs say they got them from a family member or friend. Proper prescription drug disposal ensures that drugs won't fall into the hands of those they can hurt the most.

  • Painkillers are the most commonly abused prescription drug. If you are taking pain medication, develop a pain management plan with your doctor to make sure you're receiving the right amount of pain medication.
  • Always store prescription drugs securely, and not easily accessed by others. Keep track of quantities, and keep the drugs in a locked medicine cabinet if possible.
  • Properly dispose of medications once treatment is completed. Check the label or patient information guide for disposal instructions. Your pharmacist can also tell you about safe drug drop-off locations to dispose of leftover medications.

What Mississippi Is Doing: The Prescription Monitoring Program

The Mississippi Prescription Monitoring Program is an electronic tracking program managed by the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy to help practitioners and medical dispensers identify possible inappropriate use of controlled substance drugs and other designated medications. The online service supplies a patient’s controlled substance prescription history and information about the prescriber and dispenser. This program supports the legitimate use of controlled substances while helping to safeguard public health and safety.


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Last reviewed on Aug 21, 2019

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