NSC: Many Americans personally affected by opioid crisis

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Itasca, IL – One in four Americans have a personal connection to the ongoing opioid epidemic, having either overcome addiction to prescription pain medication or known someone who has become addicted, overdosed or died from an overdose, the results of a new survey conducted by the National Safety Council show.

Despite that effect, however, 40 percent of respondents said they are not concerned about the potential health threat opioids pose to their families, and only 16 percent who began taking opioids expressed concern about addiction.

Other survey results:

  • 1 in 3 respondents prescribed an opioid in the past three years were unaware they were taking an opioid.
  • 20 percent are very confident in their ability to spot the signs of an overdose.
  • 56 percent say they can spot signs of opioid misuse or abuse, but only 28 percent are very confident they would know where to send someone close to them for treatment.

“The most fatally abused drug today may be sitting in your medicine cabinet,” NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a Nov. 8 press release. “Fortunately, we know what we need to do to eliminate more than 20,000 preventable deaths each year, and education plays a critical role.”

In response to the survey results and a recommendation from the President’s Commission for Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, NSC has launched Stop Everyday Killers, a public education campaign that includes creating “Opioids: Warn Me” labels for insurance and pharmacy cards. According to NSC, overdoses related to opioids claimed the lives of 22,000 Americans in 2016.

The Stop Everyday Killers campaign also features a traveling memorial to opioid crisis victims, called “Prescribed to Death.” The display, which began its run the week of Nov. 13, includes a memorial wall made of pills carved with faces to commemorate victims’ lives.