America’s Opioid Death Crisis May Be a Lot Worse Than We Thought

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Top Tier Gear USA


America’s ongoing opioid crisis is no secret. With thousands dying from prescription painkiller overdoses each year — nearly as many as traffic deaths — even the U.S. government has been forced to take action. As awareness of the epidemic continues to grow, further hazards of the pharmaceutical class of drugs are being revealed — including potentially higher numbers of deaths caused by their use.

According to a recent report from CBS, opioids are often the factor in deaths caused by infections like pneumonia.  CDC field officer Victoria Hall explained that “Opioid medications — codeine, hydrocodone (including Vicoprofen), oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), morphine and others” can cause respiratory complications.

Opioids at therapeutic or higher than therapeutic levels can impact our immune system, actually make your immune system less effective at fighting off illness,” she said, adding that because opioids are sedatives, they can cause breathing to become slower and more shallow, which makes the person less likely to cough. Hall says this makes “it easier for something like a pneumonia to really set in.

Complicating matters, Hall found in a recent analysis that when individuals die of an infection worsened by opiate abuse, the cause of death listed on their death certificate often only cites the infection — not the drugs. She presented her findings at a CDC meeting this week.

Hall and a colleague reviewed Minnesota’s unexplained death database and found 59 cases where opioids were involved. Twenty-two of those cases were not reported to the state’s opioid surveillance because “the involvement of drugs hadn’t been listed on the death certificate,” CBS noted.“We found if you have [a] really profound infectious disease, like really bad pneumonia, that may be the only thing written on the death certificate,” she said. “And thus it’s not going to get picked up in opioid surveillance.”

Still, “[p]neumonia was listed as a cause of death in 54 percent of the unexplained drug-related cases, the researchers found.

In one example, a Minnesota man who had been abusing opiates eventually died from a bout of the flu brought on by pneumonia. “He was on long-term opioid therapy for some back pain, and his family was a little bit concerned he was abusing his medications,” Hall said, also noting that though the main cause of death the flu, he had a “very toxic level of opioids in his system.”

[O]n the death certificate it only listed the pneumonia, and it listed no mention of opioids, so this death wasn’t counted in the state opioid death surveillance system,” she said.

Pneumonia was listed as a cause of death in 54 percent of the unexplained drug-related cases, the researchers found. Hall said this could have profound implications for keeping track of opiate deaths, particularly in states hit hard by the opioid crisis.

Her concerns about complications from opioids were confirmed by Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room doctor at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital. He said they “see a fair number of patients who use opiates. And in those patients we see, in general, a higher risk profile for developing pneumonia and other respiratory illness.”

As the extent of the nation’s opioid problems continues to come to light, Glatter issued a simple observation:

This is another in a sequence of reasons to not use opiates.

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  • elbustaroyjetspeekerson

    And the REAL perps&murderersbydrugs go on about their biz, unabated, uncontrolled, unfettered by those pesky ‘drug laws’, while a guy on the streets of NY gets KILLED for selling single tobacky sticks……….

  • TrevorD

    Once we understand that most everything we took to be true regarding modern medicine is fabricated nonsense and designed indeed not for our benefit at all, we may actually start to wake up. We should then conclude that most of the world works in the very same manner for the same few that control and manipulate the many and indeed in so many ways..

  • Another reason to legalize drugs. Supply and demand beats all.

  • SP_88

    This is a witch hunt. Once again, someone who has a preconceived notion that opiate pain medication is so bad, has found something that they were looking for before they even began looking.
    If you intentionally go looking for something, you will find it. But it doesn’t mean that there is any correlation.
    I could use these same standards to “show” that people who drive red cars are more likely to die from autoerotic asphyxiation. First, I find all the deaths from “scarfing”, and then see how many of them drove a red car.
    We don’t have an opiate problem in America, we have a government overreach problem in America. For one thing, Obamacare has destroyed the medical industry by driving away all the doctors and healthcare professionals and causing a shortage of healthcare providers. Obamacare has also driven up the cost of healthcare and decimated the health insurance industry, forcing them to do everything they can to cut costs. As a result, the quality of healthcare has plummeted.
    The DEA has also stuck their nose where it doesn’t belong. They have created so many regulations that doctors have to follow, making it impossible to provide good, quality care to their patients. This is especially true for pain management specialists.
    They have forced these doctors to dump many of their patients in order to stay below some arbitrary number of prescribed opiates. Doctors who don’t are at risk of losing their license to practice.
    These patients, who have been taking opiate pain medication for years are now losing their doctors. And because of the shortage of doctors, especially pain specialists, they are unable to find a new doctor. My spouse is one of these people. She was a model patient for almost 20 years. But her pain management doctor was forced to drop hundreds of patients. And she was among the last of his patients to be dropped. So by the time she was dropped, hundreds of other patients had already gone out to get whatever doctors were available. She had a very difficult time finding another doctor. The doctor she has now does not provide the same level of care that she received from her previous doctor. And the new doctor is not a pain management specialist. So he doesn’t understand how to properly prescribe these medications. As a result, he is paranoid about prescribing too much, and he doesn’t prescribe a second medication for breakthrough pain.
    So basically, because the government thinks they know better, my spouse is in constant pain, and her quality of life has gone way down.
    None of these problems can be solved by more government intrusion. They will only get worse, while creating more problems in the process.
    Many of these problems can be solved by properly educating doctors and healthcare professionals about opiate medications (the real truth about them, not this hyper-cautious nonsense), and about drug addiction and withdraw symptoms, and pain management, while at the same time stopping this constant flow of disinformation and propaganda.
    And furthermore, we need to stop these uneducated bureaucrats from having any control over the healthcare industry whatsoever. Why on earth would we let someone with zero medical knowledge make policies that healthcare professionals must follow? That makes no sense.
    The other thing that makes no sense is that the government is punishing the people who need pain medication because of the people who died from abusing their medication. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you abuse your medication, bad things can happen.
    There is no reason to go on this anti-painkillers crusade and force legitimate pain patients to live in horrible pain just so some ignorant bureaucrats can feel good about themselves, as if they somehow did something good. These people have no idea what kind of hell they are causing for people who are dependent on their pain medication. And apparently they don’t care.

  • Slave 2none

    so how bad can it be I mean it is approved by the FDA right…./sarc …..

    largest percentage of commercials are big pharma drugs….. no connection there ….sigh….

  • Ken, Megapolis

    Harking back to the main reason I got into prepping one fears a sudden interruption of supply of things we take for granted.
    Suppose the grid went down and it is now 2 weeks without electricity. A smartphone is as useless as a brick and you cannot withdraw no money from no ATM. I think rioting would have already started.
    Also, I fear greatly the situation where hundreds of people are suffering nasty withdrawals from their medication. They will turn psycho.
    I have a further point but I think it needs a post of its own . . .

  • Ken, Megapolis

    My dying mother was on morphine based medication but she also had chemo and radiation. I suggest any similar patient just opts for painkillers. I think Mum would be alive today because each time she had her chemo it looked like she had been hit with a sledgehammer. And goodness knows what else the hospital gave her.
    The media constantly get you to lose sleep over the Islamists. I personally fear cancer far worse. Please take me seriously and the message I give.