These days, all we hear about is the fantastic high numbers of Deaths By Opioid – and how we must reduce opioid prescriptions, no matter who needs them or why. That’s just dandy, except for one small problem: the deaths are real, alright, but deaths caused by PRESCRIPTION opioids are but a percentage of deaths caused by all opioids. Precisely 24.5 percent of all opioid deaths.

Prove it, you say? Fine – let’s let the CDC do exactly that.

Opioid Drug-related deaths in the USA

In 2017, there were 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the United States.

Fresh from the CDC:

“In 2017, more than 28,000 deaths involving synthetic opioids (other than methadone) occurred in the United States, which is more deaths than from any other type of opioid… These reports indicate that increases in synthetic opioid-involved deaths are being driven by increases in fentanyl-involved overdose deaths, and the source of the fentanyl is more likely to be illicitly manufactured than pharmaceutical.”

What are synthetic opioids?

Again, according to the CDC:

“Synthetic opioids are a class of drugs that are designed to provide pain relief, mimicking naturally occurring opioids such as codeine and morphine. They tend to be highly potent, which means only a small amount of the drug is required to produce a given effect. They include drugs like tramadol and fentanyl. Methadone is also a synthetic opioid; however, deaths involving this drug are tracked separately.

Although synthetic opioids are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies, they are also manufactured illegally in clandestine labs and distributed through the illicit drug market. Deaths involving pharmaceutical and illicit synthetic opioids cannot be distinguished in National Vital Statistics System data.”

How about deaths from prescription opiods?

According to this chart from the CDC Wonder database, in 2017 there were 17,029 deaths involving prescription opioids. The increase in deaths involving prescription opioids is driven by the use of fentanyl.

Inquiring minds want to know…

That enormous number, 70k of opioid related deaths, how much of that is fentanyl or other synthetic opioid related? Easy find: 28k of those 70 were synthetic – ie, fentanyl, most likely.

And the kicker? Of that massive 70k, we who take prescription opioids are being blamed for the lot. In reality? 17k! Seventeen thousand isn’t a small number, but it ain’t seventy thousand. It isn’t even twenty-eight, if one needs these facts spelled out.

What about booze?

An estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The first is tobacco, and the second is poor diet and physical inactivity.

What’s the take-away in regards to opioid deaths?

First off, go bother somebody else –  not chronic pain opioid users, who are (as proved above) only ¼ of all opioid deaths.

Second third and fourth of all – get rid of all alcohol, because NONE of it is beneficial

And that’s what I have to say about THAT.