Prescription opioids are often used to treat chronic and acute pain and can be an important component of treatment when used appropriately. However, in 2019, nearly 50,000 people—approximately 136 per day—died from an opioid overdose, including prescription and illicit opioids. More than 28 percent of all opioid overdoses involve a prescription opioid.
There are strategies that can help prevent overdose and support the health and well-being of communities. Before prescribing, healthcare providers can help prevent addiction and overdose by examining whether the benefits outweigh the risks, particularly if the patient is taking more than one drug at a time.The best ways to prevent opioid overdose are to improve opioid prescribing, reduce exposure to opioids, prevent misuse, and treat opioid use disorder.