Last October, chronically injured former NFL player Tyler Sash died from an accidental overdose after mixing two powerful pain medications.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t such a freak occurrence. Overdose of opioid pain meds takes the life of 17,000 Americans annually. In many cases, the victims don't think they're abusing the drugs; they're simply taking them for post-surgical or chronic pain.
Luckily, many who overdose do survive. For every female death related to a pain medication overdose, 30 women show up at the ER and recover. The numbers for men are similar.
So why do people who aren't addicted to or intentionally abusing opioid medications overdose?
1. It can be hard to keep track of how many pills you've taken. Smart Move: Always keep a log of the date and time when you take a pain pill.
2. You may inadvertently mix medications that trigger a dangerous interaction. Smart Move: Tell all of your doctors about every medication you're taking, and obtain them all from the same pharmacy. Your pharmacist can alert you to contraindications and possible interactions.
3. You figure one more pill will finally ease your pain. Smart Move: If the medication isn't working at the prescribed dose, call your doctor to explore other ways to get relief.
4. According to a study in Annals of Internal Medicine, there's one more reason: Among patients who've overdosed once, 91 percent are prescribed the same opioid 10 months later (61 percent by the same doc), which doubles the risk of overdosing again. Smart Move: After an overdose, explore alternate pain solutions.
Posts by Dr. Mehmet Oz, M.D. and Dr. Mike Roizen, M.D.
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