Deaths from prescription narcotic overdoses now outnumber traffic fatalities in the U.S., according to a recent analysis of government data by the Los Angeles Times. While most major causes of preventable death are declining, drugs are an exception, fueled by a surge in prescription pain and anxiety drugs that are potent, highly addictive and dangerous, especially when combined with other drugs or alcohol.
The fact of the matter is that people in the U.S. have an insatiable appetite for drugs, both legal and illegal. Unfortunately, while medicine turns out ever more bright and shiny pills to help us drive the freeways of pain and anxiety, we haven’t yet figured out how to include effective seatbelts. The misuse of prescription drugs is a growing epidemic. We need to address it with better education, advocacy and effective public policy.