Who is at Risk for Opioid Overdose?
Anyone who uses chronic opioids for management of cancer pain OR non-cancer pain as well as persons who use heroin or obtain opioids illicitly.
Opioid overdose can occur when a patient deliberately misuses a prescription opioid or an illicit drug. Overdose may also occur as a result of a medication error; the prescriber may miscalculate the appropriate dose, the pharmacy may dispense the wrong medicine, or the patient may interpret the instructions incorrectly.
Those at increased risk of opioid overdose include persons who are1
- Receiving rotating opioid medication regimens (and thus are at risk for incomplete cross-tolerance)
- Patients discharged from emergency medical care following opioid intoxication or poisoning
- At high risk for overdose because of a legitimate medical need for analgesia, coupled with a suspected or confirmed history of substance abuse, dependence or non-medical use of prescription or illicit opioids
- Completing mandatory opioid detoxification or abstinent for a period of time (and presumably with reduced opioid tolerance and high risk of relapse to opioid use)
- Recently released from incarceration and a past user or abuser of opioids (and presumably with reduced opioid tolerance and high risk of relapse to opioid use)
Opioid Overdose Statistics2
- Men are 59% more likely than women to die
- Highest rates by racial groups: Whites, American Indians/Alaska Natives, then blacks
- Highest rate age group: 45 - 49 years
To Review Opioid Abuse Rates by State and Age Groups, please see reference3
1) SAMHSA Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit . HHS Publication No.16-4742. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2016.
2) CDC Prescription Drug Overdose in the United States: Fact Sheet . Accessed February 24, 2017.
3) SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2012 and 2013 . Accessed February 24, 2017.
4) For national trends in Indian Health, visit Trends in Indian Health: 2014 Edition.