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CDC: Painkillers Kill Four Times More than Cocaine and Heroin Combined

Anthony Gucciardi
September 20th, 2013
Updated 05/07/2014 at 6:01 pm
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A powerful report spanning 10 years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed that painkillers are actually responsible for a whopping four times as many deaths as both heroin and cocaine combined.

painkillers heroin cocaine deaths 263x168 CDC: Painkillers Kill Four Times More than Cocaine and Heroin CombinedThe admission coincides with the initial report I told you about back in 2011, in which it was exposed that painkillers were killing around 15,000 per year back in 2008 (still more than cocaine and heroin combined). But now, we’re not just looking at a single year of data. Instead, we’re looking through an entire decade of statistics that paint a picture of just how deadly our ‘legal’ drug industry is — and it turns out it’s even more deadly than the illegal drug trade.

Even more deadly than two of the most hardcore drugs that money can buy… or at least two of the most hardcore illegal drugs that money can buy.

While the previous report documented in 2011 found that 12 million were actually on prescription painkillers purely for the high it gives, the new CDC papers found that there was a massive 415% rise in the overall rate of fatal painkiller overdoses from 1999 to 2010. We’re talking about a higher fatality rate than those who are dosing up on heroin and cocaine. Specifically, the rate of painkiller fatality deaths is about four times higher overall than cocaine and heroin combined.

Healthline reports:

“The death rate from prescription painkiller overdose—specifically opioid painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone—rose 415 percent among women and 265 percent among men from 1999 to 2010, according to a CDC study released Tuesday. Officials with the CDC say there’s been a five-fold increase in prescriptions for powerful painkilling medications, but no similar increase in the incidence of painful conditions that warrant them.”

What this means is that, as drugs are more accepted into society as a way of life (or a way to get high legally), we see an abundance of painkillers with virtually no increase in real reasons to use them. Amazingly, the drug companies and the FDA are entirely aware of this fact, so why are they still dosing up 12 million patients with painkillers who purely want to get high? Sure, it can be challenging to identify which individual patients need or do not need the drugs, but it’s not hard to figure that something might be wrong with dishing out millions of extra painkillers each year with absolutely no spike in real conditions.

The drug industry is out of control as usual, and the socially accepted ‘legal’ drugs are once again even more dangerous than the illegal alternative. And as it turns out, we have an entire base of legal drug users that are dying more often than even users of heroin and cocaine.

About Anthony Gucciardi:
1.thumbnail CDC: Painkillers Kill Four Times More than Cocaine and Heroin CombinedGoogle Plus ProfileAnthony is the Editor of NaturalSociety whose work has been read by millions worldwide and is routinely featured on major alternative and mainstream news website alike, including the powerful Drudge Report, NaturalNews, Daily Mail, and many others. Anthony has appeared on programs like Russia Today (RT), Savage Nation, The Alex Jones Show, Coast to Coast AM, and many others. Anthony is also dedicated to aiding various non-profit organizations focused around health and rehabilitation as well as the creator of the independent political website Storyleak

From around the web:

  • desertengineer

    As someone who has dealt with severe, debilitating pain, only to be told “you’re on your own because government and insurance companies won’t allow us to treat you.”, this is continued propaganda that results in more suffering. If you break into the statistics, a large proportion of the “reported” deaths were a result of liver failure from overdose of Tylenol put into the meds, suicide, and patients seeking illicit sources for relief because the war on drugs forced the medical community to abandon them. The current economy pushes this even further because a larger percentage of jobs are higher risk of injury (farming, construction labor, etc), which makes the problem worse – more injuries into a system hostile to treating pain will produce more addiction and liver failure incidents.

    I watched a terminally ill cancer patient waste away, wanting to kill herself, because the medical system was too afraid of being raided by the state narcotics agency than making her last six months with her family possible. She endured more pain than war-tortured POW’s due to this bull-****.

  • Freedom_First

    Anthony — You got it all wrong. Your statement,

    “it’s not hard to figure that something might be wrong with dishing out millions of extra painkillers each year with absolutely no spike in real conditions.”

    is ridiculous. What other people choose to eat, drink, or smoke is none of your business. The free market produces the best products, including drugs, at the best prices. You sound like a central planner, drug warrior, illegalizer who want to control the production and distribution of drugs.

    Reading the comments, I am very encouraged because the posters are well-informed.

    By the way, it is impossible to accidentally overdose on drugs that are packaged in safe doses just like it is impossible to accidentally jump off a tall building or accidentally consume twenty or thirty pills when you intended to consume two or three pills. Even if a person has a room temperature IQ and wants to see how many pills it takes to kill himself, he could keep an opiate antidote within reach. In a free market opiates and opiate antidotes would be safe, effective, cheap, and widely available. In a free market, it would be
    practically impossible to die from an opiate overdose.

  • Nick

    Reports like this are used to criminalize
    doctors who dispense much needed pain medication. Doctors are afraid to prescribe and patients languish in pain, sometimes
    committing suicide because they can’t get help.
    The government’s political agenda, the war on drugs, is a war on
    you, should not be in your doctor’s office.
    I wouldn’t believe anything that the CDC says! If you are injured or have surgery, you will desperately need
    pain relief.

  • courageandhope

    Women process pain differently than men do, and the medical profession has not always appreciated that. Too many times women are told pain is all in their heads when there is a very real cause. The doctors just haven’t figured it out yet.

  • Truth Addict

    Yeah and in the meantime, going back to the days of a little documentary called “Oxycontin Express”, people who have legitimate need have been denied sufficient opiate painkillers, or even effective painkillers at all sometimes.

    People who worked their whole lives at low-paying, physically demanding jobs. Young people who didn’t have much choice of what to do entering the workforce, seriously injuring themselves early on doing hard labor, and being treated like “junkies” over massive propaganda campaigns.

    There are multiple angles and perspectives on this debate. And for those thinking Florida just became the “pill-mill” capital of the U.S…. Not so much, that was limited to South and Central Florida just above, and those days are long gone. Though it did create allot of addicts in it’s wake, the whole time in Northwest and North Central Florida, partially due to negative publicity/attention from/due to South Florida, everybody with a medically necessitated need was being treated like a junkie.

    The TRUTH, prohibition kills, and some people are going to kill themselves anyway. Portugal has illustrated this, and in doing so has lowered their percentage of “junkies”, and what used to be illicit drug users, by a significant amount.

    “Scarface” (the movie) has well over 8 Million likes on facebook, MLB (Major League Baseball) has just over 4 Million, that is our culture and what influences people. And our culture of prohibition has created and exacerbates the romanticism, and hero-worship of drug-kingpins, even if they are fictitious.

    Really this whole over-prescribing opiates could be brought to an end in a sane manner, would take a little while and would probably get slightly worse before it gets better, but it’s getting worse either way.

  • courageandhope

    I have trouble believing anything the CDC says. I do know that it can be very hard for people who legitimately need serious pain relief to get it, because doctors are afraid to prescribe it, because of the Feds. I went a whole year after a car accident on ineffective NSAIDS because that was all doctors would prescribe. By the time I finally got some decent pain relief, a chronic pain condition had set in. It is cruel to withhold pain relief from those who are hurting when we have the means to provide it. There are more than 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain. 20% report it is enough to disrupt their sleep. (website, American Academy of Pain Medicine.) Two-thirds of the people with arthritis in the US today are under age 65, a painful condition which now 1 in 250 children suffer from!.

    Ironically, the therapies that might give a person alternatives to medication are often not covered by insurance, such as therapeutic massage to relieve painful tight muscles and promote circulation, acupuncture and chiropractic, yoga. If physical therapy is covered, it will only be for a time. Dealing with chronic pain is a multi-faceted approach, but there is a place for medication in the plan. I had hoped from Obamacare that we would have more options in health care besides the usual drugs and surgery, though.

    Optimally, in my book, health care would be a decision between the patient and his physician, without government or insurance interference. It’s demeaning to a patient to have to beg for drugs, to have to “prove” his/her pain is not “moderate” but “severe” so they can still get the time-release version of their pain medicine. And now Medicare says the TENS unit (which can relax muscles, stimulate nerves, promote relaxation) can’t be used for lower back pain, but it still works for every other kind of pain? Does that make any sense? Where’d they dig up that study? Another alternative to pain pills bites the dust for many.

  • mikef

    I usually like Mr. Gucciardi’s articles, but as a chronic pain patient I really have to take exception to this one. The current hysteria about deaths from legal opioids has caused many of us to have our medications drastically reduced, myself included. I have gone from having a more or less normal life to being disabled.
    “we see an abundance of painkillers with virtually no increase in real reasons to use them” Many people were under treated for pain and had finally started to get some relief when the witch hunt started.
    “painkillers were killing around 15,000 per year” This number, while tragic, is trivial in a country of 300 plus million. According to CDC more people die from slipping and falling in their homes each year. What is being done to us because of articles like this one is criminal. We are being condemned to lives of misery.

    • courageandhope

      I am with you on this one, mikef. See my post.

      • mikef

        Very well said courageandhope,
        For some years now we have jumped through increasing numbers of hoops (pain contracts, random urine screens, prescription databases etc.) to stay in compliance with Federal and State guidelines and regulations, and it is never enough. Now the Government dictates what Doctors can prescribe and Pharmacies can fill, even if you can find one who is not too scared.

        • courageandhope

          Thank you, mikef. I used to be in some organizations that support and advocate for pain patients. I am not in any currently, but Google brings up several, including the American Chronic Pain Association and Association of Chronic Pain Patients. Maybe I will rejoin.

          Ironically, there are lots of herbal remedies for pain that might lessen pain, such as boswellia for joint pain, or proteolytic enzymes for inflammation, but most insurance only covers pharmaceuticals.

          “The Pain Patient’s Guide to Intractable Pain” by Dr. Forest Tennant is available free online and is a resource I highly recommend on many aspects of living with pain.

  • joe

    Look at the people that swallow this nonsense hook, line and sinker. I know none have done any real research of their own.

    • bobby

      Whether they result in death I don’t know, but it is a fact that these painkillers are being prescribed and dispensed at astronomical numbers. There are dozens of abusers in just one pharmacy.

    • David C.

      The same CDC that reports on this also intentionally conflates annual influenza deaths (~500) with pneumonia deaths (~50,000) to stampede the public into flu vaccines.

      This author casually dismisses concerns that changing regulatory requirements might cut off people suffering in great pain from opioid analgesics. Until one has writhed on the floor, gasping in agony, he or she might exercise some caution in this regard.

  • joe

    Pure BS. This guy is just a coward that likes to see people suffer because he has a political agenda.

  • Laguna Beach Poets

    “Better listen up pill poppers!”

  • Bobby Moulton

    And marijuana 0 and now being clamed a cure for many illnesses including MS, Cancer, PTSD, Epilepsy,Depression, anxiety,eating disorders and sleep disorders.

    • Bobby Moulton

      That’s what ISA Indiana Safe Access thinks.

  • Deane Alban

    2 of my son’s best friends died of accidental prescription painkiller overdose. They stopped breathing in their sleep. These were bright guys in their mid 20s who had jobs, one had a family – these were not “kids”.

    • David C.

      This is very tragic. It is unconscionable that anyone anywhere spreads the lie that these drugs are benign; no drug is benign.

      That said, the current hysteria on opioids is using (presumably criminal) non-medical use deaths to fuel a rush toward greater restriction much as criminal misuse of firearms is sometimes used, in a similar non sequitur, to fuel criminalizing firearm ownership.

      People who treat pills (or guns) with inadequate respect for the dangers involved often come to predictable harm. There are inviolable rules for safe gun handling; the same can be said for opioid pain relievers.

  • leela

    But at least some of them must be dying on purpose.

    • David C.

      Read the report. It’s at least 10% suicides.

  • 98882

    Amazing and disturbing