Nine overdose deaths so far this year in St. Clair County. Last year there were 119 OD deaths in St. Clair and Madison counties. Then there was Prince.
The overdoses are almost always from some pain killer, usually an opioid such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, about half the time heroin.
It too often starts with our doctors.
You need a painkiller after surgery or dental work and leave with 30 pills. You typically only use nine. That’s 21 pills available for abuse by you or by someone who buys, begs or steals them from you.
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Use quickly becomes abuse. You can’t get enough from the doctors, so you turn to drug dealers. The pills are expensive on the illegal drug market: an oxycodone pill sells for $25 on the street. Heroin is cheaper and more potent, sometimes $5 to $10 for a button that can last all day for beginner.
Overdose. Death, for the unlucky.
The federal Centers for Disease Control estimates that deaths from prescription painkillers has gone up 265 percent for men and 400 percent for women since 1999. Heroin deaths have gone up 286 percent since 2002.
So what to do?
There’s one simple solution: Stop prescribing 30 pills when 10 will do. Two experts at Washington University School of Medicine just made that recommendation.
If you have extra pills, dispose of them before someone takes them.
Don’t think you are immune. A few years ago when News-Democrat reporters tracked every local overdose death, they found the majority were middle-aged people who started off with painkillers for a work injury that spiraled out of control.
Stop heroin? Start with a visit to your medicine chest.