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eISSN: 2373-6445

Psychology & Clinical Psychiatry

Research Article Volume 5 Issue 1

Human Errors May Explain a False Epide Prescription Pain Medication Overdose Deaths

Alen J Salerian

Salerian Center for Neuroscience and Pain, USA

Correspondence: Alen J Salerian, Salerian Center for Neuroscience and Pain, 8409 Carlynn Drive, MD 20817, Bethesda, USA, Tel 301-204-9004

Received: December 06, 2015 | Published: January 20, 2016

Citation: Salerian AJ (2016) Human Errors May Explain An Epidemic of Prescription Pain Control Overdose Deaths. J Psychol Clin Psychiatry 5(1): 00249. DOI: 10.15406/jpcpy.2016.05.00249

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This study reviews the validity of a public perception promoted by Centers Control that prescription pain medications have contributed to an epidem deaths and illicit use of heroin. No scientific evidence has been found to su causative link between prescription pain medications and an epidemic of deaths and illicit use of heroin. The study results suggest highly complex m medical and psychosocial influences to be predominant in the increasing overdose deaths.


A prevalent public perception promoted by Centers for Disease been suggesting that prescription pain medications have led to of overdose deaths and also have contributed to the increased illicit drugs including heroin [1]. The negative public perception of prescription pain medications adversely impacted people with chronic pain who may benefit f prescription pain medications.

The aim of this review is to determine whether the alleged asso between the increasing number of overdose deaths, worsening addiction and the prescription pain medication is scientifically.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published numerous alert warning of a deadly epidemic of deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses. On November 4, 2015 DEA acting administrator Chuck Rosenberg warned duct public: guns safer than prescription drugs. He declared that in 2013 more than in the Unites States died from a drug overdose and more than half of those wer prescription painkillers and heroin.

CDC prescription drug overdose data in October 2015 reported total annual ova jumped to 44,000 deaths with prescription drugs deaths of 23,000 and 16,000 d prescription opioid [1].

CDC prescription drug overdose data also reported the following [2]:

Every day in the United States 44 people died as a result of prescription op Nearly 2,000,000 Americans either used for or dependent on opioid painkiller Drug misuse caused about 2.5 million emergency department visits in 2011.


CDC data showed that between 2000 and 2013 the number of deaths from suic from 33,00 to 41,000 annual deaths corresponding to a jump from 10.4 to 12.6 thousand population. There was an increase in heroin overdose deaths from 0. per hundred thousand population in the same period [3]. They showed a decline pain medication overdose deaths from 2011 to 2013 [3] (Figures 1-6).

Figure 1: CDC Promotion of the Epidemic.
Figure 2: CDC Promotion of the Epidemic.
Figure 3: CDC Promotion of the Epidemic.
Figure 4: CDC Promotion of the Epidemic.
Figure 5: Overdose Deaths From Prescription P Medications Have Declined From 2011 to 2013.
Figure 6: False Alarm – False Advertising.

A groundbreaking study by Drs Webster & Dasgupta [3] observed that common errors made the overall death statistics of overdose deaths scientifically question significance was possibly the exaggerated numbers of prescription pain medic because often the overdose diagnosis did not include laboratory data and bas and unconfirmed reports.

A careful review of CDC disseminated data in support of a causative link between pain medications and an epidemic of deaths from prescription pain medication of heroin revealed no scientifically valid study to support the central claim.


It seems that the current prevalent impression that prescription pain medication causing much harm by contributing to an epidemic of overdose deaths, illicit d any scientific evidence. Some of the erroneous public perception can be explain of the following:

  1. Association is not causation
  2. Total drug overdose deaths (44,000 or 14 people per hundred thousand pop suicides and antidepressants and grossly distort final results.
  3. Prescription pain medications are wrongly singled out as the predominant c numbers of total drug overdose deaths without supporting evidence. From number of deaths from prescription pain medications have declined from 7. hundred thousand population.
  4. The high number of suicides (40,000 or 12.5 people per hundred thousand p similar to the high number of overdose deaths. This suggests that the numb deaths reflects complications of many complex mental disorders independent prescription pain medications.
  5. CDC statistics wrongfully claim many fold increases in overdose deaths by e scientifically valid comparison of number of deaths per hundred thousand p only citing the overall numbers of deaths. This is a serious statistical misrep.
  6. According to the Institute Of Medicine Report that there are some 110 million A chronic pain [4]. This large number may reflect multiple social medical realities industrial and traffic accidents, wars and longer longevity with cancer and other disorders--‐and has greatly increased the number of people who may benefit f prescription pain medications [5].
  7. The risk of medication overuse and addiction are serious concerns. They should without impeding adequate treatment for people with pain [6,7].
  8. Clinicians must also be aware of the potential adverse events including fatalities with disruption of treatment with opiates in different subgroups. of significance ‐established risk of premature death upon discontinuation of opiates independent withdrawal responses. Dissemination of erroneous information about prescript medications have gained even more significance because of the vast literature serious complications of untreated chronic pain that may include brain atrophy neurodegeneration [8,9].


Despite the current prevalent public perception that prescription opiates h epidemic of overdose deaths and illicit use of drugs there is no scientific eve support it.


  1. National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIH). The Science of Drug Abuse & Addiction.
  2. CDC Vital signs (2011) Prescription Painkiller Overdoses in the US. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    1. Vital Signs Issue details: Demographic and Substance Use Trends Among Heroin Users — United States, 2002–2013, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)
    2. Vital Signs – Today’s Heroin Epidemic [PODCAST - 1:15 minutes]
    3. Vital Signs – Today’s Heroin Epidemic [PSA - 0:60 seconds]
    4. Vital Signs: Opioid Painkiller Prescribing: Where You Live Makes a Difference
    5. Vital Signs: Prescription Painkiller Overdoses: A Growing Epidemic, Especially Among Women
    6. Vital Signs: Prescription Painkiller Overdoses: Use and Abuse of Methadone as a Painkiller
    7. Vital Signs: Prescription Painkiller Overdoses in the US
    8. CDC Prescription Drug Overdose
    9. Common Elements in Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain
    10. Data Brief: Drug-poisoning Deaths Involving Heroin: United States, 2000–2013
    11. Press Release: Heroin overdose deaths increased in many states through 2012
    12. Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention for States
  3. Webster LR, Dasgupta N (2011) Obtaining adequate the to determine causes of opioid related overdose deaths. Pain Med 2: S86-S92.
  4. The National Academies Collection: Reports funded by National Institutes of Health (2011) Relieving pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research.
  5. Kakko J, Svanborg KD, Kreek MJ, Helig M (2003) 1-year retention and social function after buprenorphine assisted relapse prevention trial. Lancet 361(9358): 662-668.
  6. Salerian AJ (2015) Case studies of 17 Patients. Journal of case reports and studies 3(2): 203.
  7. Salerian AJ (2015) Discontinuation of Opiate Treatment: A Retrospective Review of 49 patients. Journal of Psychology And Clinical Psychiatry 2(4): 00083.
  8. Salerian AJ (2015) Opiates: Benefits and Overuse Potential. Pharmacy and Pharmacology International Journal 2(3): 00022.
  9. Apkarian AV, Sosa Y, Sonty S, Levy RM, Harden RN, et al. (2004) Chronic back pain is associated with decreased prefrontal and brain matter density. J Neurosci 24(46): 10410-10415.
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