Painkiller misperceptions common, survey finds

Itasca, IL – Almost 9 out of 10 people who use opioid painkillers are not concerned about becoming addicted to the drugs, according to a recent survey from the National Safety Council.

The findings highlight a stark contrast between public perception and the potential dangers of opioid medication, NSC experts said during a March 11 presentation. NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman and Medical Advisor Dr. Donald Teater highlighted key findings from the survey, which featured more than 1,000 respondents from people 18 or older.

Nearly 60 percent of respondents had at least one risk factor for addiction based on their family history, according to results of the survey. Additionally, almost 70 percent did not know that sharing narcotic opioid painkillers is a felony. Only 12 percent said they were concerned about addiction to the drugs, which include brand names such as Vicodin, Percocet, Demerol and OxyContin.

Deaths related to prescription pain medication have increased steadily in recent years. In 2013, opioid-related incidents killed 16,235 people, which was about 45 percent more than the number of people killed by gun violence (11,208).

“Prescription painkillers are dangerous medications,” Teater said. “They affect your brain chemistry, and they are very addicting.”