Are opioid addictions more deadly than car crashes & gun violence?
OMAHA, Ne (FOX42KPTM) —
Thousands of people die every year from overdosing on painkillers.
Now, some say that these drugs are more deadly than car crashes and gun violence.
Matt Tompkins said, "That was a pretty scary moment and I hadn't communicated any of the things I'd been going through with my spouse."
It was about five years ago when Tompkins says he overdosed on prescription painkillers.
"It's kind of hard to tell how bad it could've been."
Tompkins says, thankfully, his wife was home when it happened.
“It still was a struggle for another couple years before I got help."
Tompkins is talking about his addiction to opioids like Vicodin. It’s an addiction experts say can turn deadly.
Jennifer Green, director of LiveWise Coalition, said, "It's surpassing car crashes. It's surpassing gun violence with the amount of people who are unfortunately dying every single day from this.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about 35,000 people died from car crashes in 2015 on U.S. roads.
In 2015 about 13,500 people died from gun violence, that's according to Gun Violence Archive.
Opioid overdose deaths in 2015 were well above that number. According to the Centers for Disease Control about 33,000 people died.
Green said, "It's everybody. It's anyone who's prescribed a pain pill has that potential for becoming addicted to it."
Green says it can also be teens who want to experiment.
Green said, "In Nebraska in 2014 we had 1 in 7 Nebraska teens report that they had tried taking prescription drugs or misused prescription drugs...that continues to rise every year because we have people continuing to try to experiment with it."
Green says it only takes about 10 to 14 days of using an opiate for an addiction to start.
Green said, "As a person becomes addicted to it their tolerance level goes up so they require a little bit more."
To stop more overdoses and deaths from happening Green says education and treatment are key.
She recommends that people speak with their doctors and find out how much medication they really need.
If you do become addicted to opioids Tompkins wants you to know you're not alone.
Tompkins said, "The only way you can fix it is getting help."
LiveWise has a prescription drug takeback event every year.
Green says it's a time to clear out those medicine cabinets and get rid of drugs that could be deadly for you and your family.