Prescription Drug Overdoses Now the 9th Leading Cause of Death in the United States — This ONE Type Accounts for More Than Half of Them

painkiller deaths

Prescription painkiller drugs: proceed with extreme caution. Photo via sfxeric/Flickr.


As far as prescription drugs go, few nations are more hopelessly addicted than the United States, where direct-to-viewer TV drug advertising is not only the norm, it makes up huge percentages of national network TV commercials.

Surveys show that doctors know far too little about nutrition, and instead rely on prescription drugs as the lifeblood of their practice, even despite the rampant dangers and potential side effects.

While these drugs enjoy a sterling a reputation because of their supposed“advanced” nature, the truth is that they are killing Americans in alarmingly high numbers, and there’s one class of drug in particular that’s doing most of the damage.

“We Know of No Other Medication…That Kills Patients So Frequently”

As noted in this article from the Organic Consumers Association citing, more Americans now use prescription opioid painkillers than smoke cigarettes, with the U.S. consuming a staggering 80 percent of all opioids sold worldwide.

Drug deaths from opioid over-prescription and legal drug abuse are skyrocketing, with 52,404 Americans dying from drug overdoses and 33,091 of these deaths involving at least one opioid.

The top killers among this class of drugs include methadone, oxycodone (OxyContin® is one such drug), and hydrocodone (Vicodin®). Prescriptions for this type of drug rose by 300 percent between 2000 and 2009, the article noted, and accounted for nearly-one third of the opioid deaths. 

Unfortunately for people consuming these painkillers, the dangers are still not evident, and the way the CDC classify these deaths may be one major reason why.

Drug Deaths Not Officially Counted on Top 10 List

In summer 2016, a list of the top 10 causes of death in the United States was released by the CDC, with one glaring omission: prescription drugs were not counted in their rightful place of 9th, because of a classification ruling within the organization.


Oxycodone side effects. Via Wikimedia Commons

As mentioned above, overdoses killed 52,404 people in 2015, the last year for which data has been collected, compared to 48,146 for kidney disease, the “official” ninth-highest cause. One-third of the deaths were from prescribed drugs.

While it can be argued that these drugs may deserve to be categorized differently because they are designed to help patients, the cold hard truth of the matter is that prescription drugs kill, and they do so often.

We know of no other medication routinely used for a nonfatal condition that kills patients so frequently,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC.

But despite the glaring risks, little is being done to combat the opioid epidemic, perhaps due to the overwhelming influence of the pharmaceutical industry in both politics and the media.

In 2015, the industry spent an astonishing $240,651,911 on lobbying over $81.85 million more than the next highest industry, insurance. Since 1998, pharmaceutical companies have spent more than any other industry on lobbying, more than $1 billion more than the next highest industry (also insurance) according to data from the website

Perhaps the most heartbreaking aspect of the opioid epidemic is that these deaths are preventable, but the first step to preventing them is admitting the problem, and that’s something most doctors and health professionals — not to mention the CDC — still don’t seem willing to do.


While it’s true that strong painkillers are necessary for people on the high end of the pain spectrum, others are able to withstand pain through smaller doses of the drugs, natural remedies, and a combination of relaxation, and overall mental strength (“mind over matter”).

In the meantime, you can protect yourself from the dangers of opioids by reading up about natural painkiller alternatives both in terms of herbs and practices like meditation, that can be used in concert with each other over time to diminish or eliminate the need for opioids (with the help of a doctor).

Recommended Reading:

Meditation Could Eliminate Need for Painkillers By Opening a “Completely Different Pathway,” Researchers Say

A Survey Was Given to 114 U.S. Doctors About Nutrition. These Results Are Pretty Scary

Drug Overdoses Are the 9th Leading Cause of Death in the U.S. (, includes info on pregnancy risks of opioids)


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Categories: AltHealthWORKS, Big Phama, and FDA.
About Nick Meyer

Nick Meyer is a journalist who's been published in the Detroit Free Press, Dallas Morning News and several other outlets. He founded AltHealthWORKS in 2012 to showcase extraordinary stories of healing and the power of organic living, stories the mainstream media always seemed to miss. Check out Nick's Amazon best-seller 'Dirt Cheap Organic: 101 Tips For Going Organic on a Budget' by clicking here, as well as its sequel Dirt Cheap Weight Loss.