Following the death of Mindy McCready, there has been buzz about deaths from addiction. McCready was the fifth cast member on Dr. Pinsky’s “Celebrity Rehab Show”  to die from either suicide or overdose.  This seems unusual to many people, some of whom think the statistic reveals something about the show. But the unfortunate truth is people die from addiction every day. Addiction kills.

According to the Centers for Disease Control,  100 people die from drug overdose every day in America.

More than 12 million Americans report using prescription pain medication without a medical reason. Even more frightening — 55 % of prescription drugs taken off label are acquired from a friend or family member.

The number one cause of death with prescription painkillers is respiratory failure. Breathing stops, due to the overdose.  In January of 2012 I urged for increased adoption of prescription drug monitoring programs.  Thankfully, more  states have adopted these programs following Florida and New Jersey. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 43 states have now passed or filed Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs.

But prescription drugs aren’t the only path to death by sedation after overdose. A 2011 World Health Organization report claimed that alcohol related deaths now outnumber deaths from AIDS worldwide. More than 2.5 million people die each year from alcohol. In the former Soviet Union, 1 in 5 deaths are related to alcohol. Alcohol,  according to the W.H.O., also accelerates 60 different types of diseases.

What are we missing here? The disease of Addiction is a deadly epidemic that we need to look at further. Medical detoxification, treatment and a strong aftercare are only the beginning. On a daily basis I personally wonder why we as a society are not doing more. Why aren’t we taking more preventive measures for this serious problem we face.

As an addiction professional I am reminded daily that addiction kills. I know only too well of the countless lives of celebrities, famous people, sons, daughters, mothers, and husbands that have ended way too early. People like you an me.

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