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November 15th, 2012
12:24 PM ET

America faces epidemic of prescription drug overdoses – Dr. Gupta reports

A deadly drug epidemic is currently unfolding in the U.S. with prescription drug overdoses, particularly painkillers. Prescription drug poisoning is now a more common way to die than being killed in a car accident. This is just one of the startling statistics in Dr. Sanjay Gupta's new CNN documentary, "Deadly Dose.”

Dr. Gupta says he's been noticing in the hospital where he works, “that the number of pain prescriptions being given out were increasing” but it was a call from former President Clinton that raised his awareness about the problem.

CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent adds that during his conversation with the former president he was told about two of Clinton’s friends who had both lost sons within a few days of each other due to prescription drug overdoses.

“We prescribe enough painkillers in this country to give every man woman and child a pill every four hours for three weeks,” Dr. Gupta explains.

"Deadly Dose" airs this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

Filed under: Health
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Dave Fischer

    I can not express enough how important pain relief is. I am in constant back pain and need these sort of pain relievers. Do to abuse, there is a huge problem getting these meds when needed. Not having access to pain medication without jumping through hoops is unacceptable.

    December 1, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. maryann zindell

    Substance abuse is out of control, I worked in emergency medicine. Most of substance abusers use pain as an excuse to obtain their need for the drug. If they do not get at 1 ER they go to the next till they get it. There is a drug treatment center down the street form me, while you are waiting for the bus they come out from the program and start to share pills and other substances while on methadone. Most state they went into the program due to a court case? Many children are in foster care from this many kids are lacking a parent due to death of a parent due to OD. Many children are walking the streets with substance abuse parents with no help. It is one thing to use but many are pregnant and using and the babies are being born with defects or with an addiction. It is very sad and something has to be done. Most of the people in jail are there due to substance abuse also.

    November 24, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Mike Schiks

    There is no question that there are many who need relief from pain. Dr. Gupta stops short in speakding candidly about addiction. For those of us who have been working for years in addiction the story of individuals who started their dependency with the use of prescriptions is not new. Alcohol and drug dependency has been defined and accepted as an illness for years, but the amount of training/education in the core curiculum of professionals is miniscule including physicians, psychologists, social workers, chaplains etc. While Dr. Gupta's piece was a start it only scratched the surface of the epidemic of painkiller addiction in this country. There is a new profile of heroin addicts today....those who start with a painkiller based on a legitimate need e.g. a sports injury...and after exhausting attempts to get their pain meds (oxycodin etc) from pharmacies they turn to the streets....where only too soon they are introduced to heroin. They are told it is the same thing....and there are similar properties. Add to this America's love affair with alcohol and it further the risk for overdose. And what is too often a strategy used by some caregivers? Too often it is putting them on a constant dose of methadone or suboxone. We routinely see young people from all walks of life in this situation, who tragically live from dose to dose at the expense of their future. Some are lucky to get help from programs that get them off the meds. Many more do not and sadly overdose. Thanks for scratching the surface.

    November 23, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. renegade769

    On this topic: the real issue is the big- pharmaceutical corperations. The adds for drugs and anti depressions. Americans have been conditioned to believe that it's ok by the medical industry and the government is complaisant. The FDA is a joke and the medical community has forgotten. "First Do No Harm" and not taking responsibility. $$$$$. As always is at the root of it all. On the otherside of the coin : People need to ask questions about medications, don't act like you are stupid and don't know the talking 6 to 10 80MG of codine a day and drink alcohol with it and really believe that your not addicted. Really? You keep taking it ? There is no way that doctors didnot recognized the danger give me a beak. Real people with real pain manage there pain. How can you stop people from abusing drugs? What is the score on the war on drugs? You don't hear about that anymore. Why? Oh opiets are legal b/c somebody is getting rich. Legalize Marijuna ? No. Why? It helps a lot of people deal with pain and stress safely. Oh wait big-Pharma. Would not make enough money.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Michele Gesell

    I was glad that Sanjay did make the distinction between "abusers" and those who live with severe pain daily and have a legitimate need for pain control. The "stigma" of taking medication for pain control is at times unbearable.

    November 15, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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