Read warning labels about opioids and avoid taking them before driving.

NSC: Few Americans Can Spot Signs of Opioid Abuse

Nov. 9, 2017
One in four people in the United States personally know someone addicted to opioids or is addicted themselves.

Can you spot the signs of opioid abuse? If your answer is no, you're not alone.

The National Safety Council (NSC) has released survey results examining opioid misuse in the United States. Only 20 percent of those polled said they are "very confident" they can spot the signs of an overdose, and 28 percent said they are aware of treatment options.

"The most fatally abused drug today may be sitting in your medicine cabinet," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, NSC president and CEO.  "Fortunately, we know what we need to do to eliminate more than 20,000 preventable deaths each year, and education plays a critical role. We hope the Stop Everyday Killers campaign helps personalize this tragedy in order to save lives."

Study findings show that one in four Americans personally have a connection to the epidemic sweeping the U.S. However, 40 percent of them indicated they are not concerned about prescription pain medication as a health and safety threat to their family. 

Results also discovered that only 16 percent of respondents who take prescriptions actually are concerned about becoming addicted, and, overall, only 63 percent of Americans believe that opioids are very addictive. However, the survey found one in three Americans who were prescribed an opioid in the last three years did not realize the medicine they took was an opioid.

In response to the survey, the organization has teamed up with Stericycle for pharmaceutical disposal. The company is providing pre-paid Seal&Send envelopes for returning unused medications. In addition, NSC has created "Opioids: Warn Me" labels for insurance and pharmacy cards. These labels are intended to prompt a critical conversation between patients and prescribers about the risks of taking opioids and possible alternatives. 

The "Opioids: Warn Me" labels and the Seal&Send envelopes are available at NSC's website.

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