The study which reported that drug overdose death rates have tripled in Oklahoma, amongst other states, has been conducted on a national scale. This research was focused extensively on people of ages ranging from 12 to 25 years old.
Deaths caused by prescription or illegal drug overdose have almost doubled across the US since 2000 when deaths recorded occurred in 3.1 per 100.000 people. In these past years, the rates have reached 7.3 per 100.000, as a report from the Trust for America’s Health stated.
This conducted study showed how in five states, Kansas, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Montana and Ohio, the yearly death toll has quadrupled and in 12 other states, they have tripled, with West Virginia having the highest death toll recorded from across the nation, 12.6 per 100.000. This study also showed that males have a higher chance of death due to drug overdose, almost double when compared to females.
The largest growth in death rates was shown by the age group between 18 and 25 years old. This is largely due to the increase of prescription drug abuse by teenagers and young adults, besides illegal drug use. The highest mortality rate comes from overdosing on heroin because over 45% of prescription drug addicts switch to heroin due to its relatively low cost when compared to prescription painkillers, and its ease of acquirement.
The prescription painkillers most commonly found to lead to death from drug overdose are OxyContin and Vicodin responsible for 22.700 deaths in 2013. These painkillers are extremely addictive, especially when administered from an early age, with almost 90% of adult painkiller addicts starting their addiction since they were 18 years old.
The highest at risk among the age group between 18 and 25 are teenagers from high-income families, for reasons easy to understand (money).
Because of these claims from the Trust for America’s Health, people are trying to revamp the way in which we deal with these types of addictions. The most important step is preventing it in the first place, by further limiting access to strong prescription painkillers and if the need arises, by providing support earlier.
Also, a higher degree of education concerning the dangers that come with prescription medication needs to be a high priority at the moment, for both children and parents, considering that the “just say no” approach doesn’t actually work in most cases.
Due to the fact that drug overdose death rates have tripled in Oklahoma and quadrupled in other states, more invasive and aggressive methods need to be taken into consideration in order to slow down the growing death rates, if stopping them altogether proves to be too much of a challenge.