America's Opioid Death Crisis May Be A Lot Worse Than We Thought

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Carey Wedler via,

America’s ongoing opioid crisis is no secret. With thousands dying from prescription painkiller overdoses each year — nearly as many as traffic deaths — even the U.S. government has been forced to take action. As awareness of the epidemic continues to grow, further hazards of the pharmaceutical class of drugs are being revealed — including potentially higher numbers of deaths caused by their use.

According to a recent report from CBS, opioids are often the factor in deaths caused by infections like pneumonia.  CDC field officer Victoria Hall explained that “Opioid medications — codeine, hydrocodone (including Vicoprofen), oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), morphine and others” can cause respiratory complications.

Opioids at therapeutic or higher than therapeutic levels can impact our immune system, actually make your immune system less effective at fighting off illness,” she said, adding that because opioids are sedatives, they can cause breathing to become slower and more shallow, which makes the person less likely to cough. Hall says this makes “it easier for something like a pneumonia to really set in.

Complicating matters, Hall found in a recent analysis that when individuals die of an infection worsened by opiate abuse, the cause of death listed on their death certificate often only cites the infection — not the drugs. She presented her findings at a CDC meeting this week.

Hall and a colleague reviewed Minnesota’s unexplained death database and found 59 cases where opioids were involved. Twenty-two of those cases were not reported to the state’s opioid surveillance because “the involvement of drugs hadn’t been listed on the death certificate,” CBS noted.“We found if you have [a] really profound infectious disease, like really bad pneumonia, that may be the only thing written on the death certificate,” she said. “And thus it’s not going to get picked up in opioid surveillance.”

Still, “[p]neumonia was listed as a cause of death in 54 percent of the unexplained drug-related cases, the researchers found.

In one example, a Minnesota man who had been abusing opiates eventually died from a bout of the flu brought on by pneumonia.

He was on long-term opioid therapy for some back pain, and his family was a little bit concerned he was abusing his medications,” Hall said, also noting that though the main cause of death the flu, he had a “very toxic level of opioids in his system.”


[O]n the death certificate it only listed the pneumonia, and it listed no mention of opioids, so this death wasn’t counted in the state opioid death surveillance system,” she said.

Pneumonia was listed as a cause of death in 54 percent of the unexplained drug-related cases, the researchers found. Hall said this could have profound implications for keeping track of opiate deaths, particularly in states hit hard by the opioid crisis.

Her concerns about complications from opioids were confirmed by Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room doctor at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital. He said they “see a fair number of patients who use opiates. And in those patients we see, in general, a higher risk profile for developing pneumonia and other respiratory illness.”

As the extent of the nation’s opioid problems continues to come to light, Glatter issued a simple observation:

This is another in a sequence of reasons to not use opiates.

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Hongcha's picture

But these are legal & honorable while cannabis, which heals and which has killed no one, is still blacklisted.

lil dirtball's picture

If we would only send more troops to Afghanistan, we could lick this scourge and win the war - killing two birds with one stone.

Re-instate the draft!

alt right dude's picture

No wonder .. since the hOpium dealer in chief is gone and his H successor lost in the woods, there's only opium left for the masses.


Mtnrunnr's picture

Hey, if these people want to take themselves out its no skin off my back. Fuck big pharma for this but I know a bunch of opioid and heroine addicts and honestly most of them its hard to tell a difference. Waste of human space to begin with.

auricle's picture

I'm going to defer to Neil Degrasse Tysen on this. The scientists have concluded and it is settled science that marijuana is useless and oxycontin is medically beneficial to you.  /s


The measurement of medical benefit is not based on mortality rates but on corporate profits. 

SixIsNinE's picture

Neil likes to get baked too ...

check him out with some trippy spaceycakes : - green screens & space exploration - neil degrasse gets baked

Hilarious !

Perimetr's picture

Sure, more troops to Afghanistan?

Heroin/opium production has been going up ever since the US took charge of Afghanistan in 2001,  when the output of opium/heroin was exactly ZERO.

Yeah, that's right, under the Taliban in 2000 zero tons of opium were coming out of Afghanistan.

11 years after the US/NATO took control of the country, 8500 tons of opium was leaving Afghanistan

It's probably 10,000 tons a year now, a $$trillion$$ worth of heroin, with the too-big-to-jail banks taking a $200 billion cut, and the rest going to fund the CIA's mercenary armies, payoffs to politicians, whatever coup is needed, weapons, murders, blackmail, etc

So if more troops are going to Afghanistan, they will be sent there to PROTECT and MAINTAIN THE DRUG TRADE.

It's way too profitable to give up, you see.

BrownCoat's picture

They indoctrinate the children to believe collectivist BS and PC stuff. Why not indoctrinate them against alcohol and opiates?

Croesus's picture

Old man's a pain clinic patient; getting this crap the legal way, is harder than the illegal way.

BurningFuld's picture

Caus the wrong people are making money from cannabis.

runswithscissors's picture

Thank goodness for big pharma and opiates because we know just how dangerous marijuana can be.  

alt right dude's picture

All those poppy fields in Afghanistan came in handy.

Hail NATO !

SilverRhino's picture

The United States consumes 80% of the worlds opioids.   

What was done to China in the 19th century, is being done to the United States in the early 21st.   

  • Drain the nation of it's silver (wealth) via addiction.  

The question is, who controls the world supply of opium right now?   -->  DEEP STATE.

chubakka's picture

its blacklisted for that reason.  big pharma hates it. 

serotonindumptruck's picture

At a buck a milligram, the market for street narcotics has never been higher.

orangegeek's picture

genocide from all angles

Fedaykinx's picture

this just in: no fucking shit

lasvegaspersona's picture

opiods cause respiratory depression. It takes a lot...unless you add alcohol or tranqs...then it gets easier.

The war on opiates, the cheapest and safest pain relievers (yup) when used as directed is hurting patients.

First we were  warned that NSAIDS were deadly. Clelebrex and Vioxx kill! (that too was largely BS) Then we were told that pain was the 6th vital sign!!!

Now someone's wife (think Tipper Gore) decided to go on a holy rampage because her friends daugher took a few Percocets and washed them down with a little too much Jakcy D. It is unfortunate but the government is now on a war against patients with real pain. If we physicians cannot treat pain...what good do we really do?

I am not saying that opiates are always the best nor first choice. I am saying that I know better than the latest Tipper Gore and her war an whatever makes her feel like she is 'making a difference".

Unintended consequences have still not been ubderstood by our superior leaders. They cannot resist the urge to meddle in areas where they have no more knowledge that a newly minted journalist.

38BWD22's picture



Excellent post, thank you for a reality check.


adamas's picture

Sorry,  you're talking BS,  you're a Dr  (possibly) or a big pharma troll  (probably) talking your book. The truth is that opioids,  oxycontin etc are destroying lives through addiction.  I know a very very successful businessman who took one oxycontin 7 years ago and has been hooked ever since,  he sniffs the shit up his nose... he is a lovely guy but has access to the black market like millions of others... these products should be treated as a controlled substance only available in small qtys in hospitals,  they should not be pumped liberally by the drugs companies into the black/grey market,  a sort of legalised Pablo escobar... it's criminally negligent to leave these things easily available 

Vidar's picture

The problem is drug prohibition/control, not the drugs. The vast majority of overdose deaths are due to people who don't know how much they are taking or they are thinly disguised suicides. What right do you, or anyone else, have to tell someone else what they can buy or sell. If this "businessman" can afford his habit, what's the problem? Why is your value scale more legitimate than his?

EOTS2's picture

 Exactly, well said.

I don't have time for these assholes who's only solution is to bust more heads, for another million years.

hardmedicine's picture

thank you so much for fighting back against all the ridiculous over reacting of the anti-opioid war.


I'm sick to death of people who believe it is their RIGHT to tell other people what they can or cannot put into their own body.


I wish there was just ONE free nation left on this earth and i would certainly pack it up and get over there tout de suite

scoutshonor's picture

The war has nothing to do with drugs--the war is over who gets paid to control access to the drugs.  

EOTS2's picture

Go fuck yourself. 

Xena fobe's picture

The DEA has created a situation where people who legitimately need them are denied but apparently any druggie can get them illegally.  So a law abiding citizen is forced to suffer while low life creeps kill themselves by abusing the stuff. 

detached.amusement's picture


like the 911 "accident"

Moe Hamhead's picture

Good for you! Don't let 9-11 go away.

HalinCA's picture

My leaders are not superior and certaintly not motivated by helping me.  


Please, where do you live?  I need to move there pronto!


But I like your comparison to journalists, newly minted.  But it does break down in that a leader is not motivated by naive ideology.

Vilfredo Pareto's picture

True.  Look at the morbidity and mortality rates for NSAIDs.  We now need a war on anti inflammatories lol

besnook's picture

i have a semi pertinent story illustrating your observations.

one year i had three accidents that caused a lot of acute pain. i had to go to two different pharmacies for my scrips and when i went to my regular pharmacy for the last one they saw the record of the prescriptions and refused to serve me. i have to admit the only reason i got them was because i like to get high on opiates for a coupla days and forget about the acute phase of the pain. i love the nod.

besnook's picture

money flow. opoids are legal but make a lot of money on the black market which helps share price so it is okay. the company is not responsible for where the drugs go once they are out the door.  pot money is made by bad people but the way good people earn money from it is throwing them in jail. pot is approaching legality because the good people have become .gov budgets. the opposition to this change has come the former good people benefactors,i.e., cops, lawyers, judges, prison guards, and private prisons, opoid producers, liquor companies and all their sycophants.

surfvin's picture

Vitality biopharma inc.

Jayda1850's picture

A great example how fucked up the pharma system is: A good friend of mine is paying over $3k a month with insurance for the chemo pill Gleevec which he has to take for the rest of his life, look up the price if you don't believe me, but between all his doctors he was prescribed 750 pain pills for 2 months for the mere cost of $90. He ended up having someone sell the pain pills for him to help pay for the Gleevec.

HalinCA's picture

Love that irrepressible free market shit!  

Von Mises would be proud of him!


Born2Bwired's picture

from the wiki page: look at US cost vs ROW.


"The wholesale cost in the developing world is about 1,386.49 to 19,162.50 USD a year.[3] In the United States a typical dose for a year has a wholesale cost of $84,408.78,[4] while in the United Kingdom the NHS was paying about 20,980 pounds ($32053) in 2016.[5] A generic version became avaliable in the UK as of 2017.[6]"

Vilfredo Pareto's picture

Shit a lot of new treatments such as hepatitis C is well over 50,000 bucks and that is with a discount.

Schlub's picture

Funny how they never seem to go after the assholes who bring the raw shit here. If Satan truly exists, he must find this delightful and humorous.

sinbad2's picture

Johnson&Johnson grows the opium that kills you, they have big poppy farms in Tasmania. All the legal opium is grown by American drug companies.

Vilfredo Pareto's picture

It is strange how opium production went from almost zero under the Taliban to a new all time record.  They supposedly make up 90 percent of the illegal opiate market.  Yet you can find pictures of our troops walking through endless poppy fields.


Check out the graph and how it coincides with the ouster of the Taliban and the presence of US troops.   You might almost think it was a conspiracy lol



HalinCA's picture

Satan is very, very busy ... and sooooo jaded .... I think he spends his time focused on people who appear to be 'virtuous' in spite of all he has done to corrupt the rest of us.

And now that I think on it, since I became a cynical observer of humanity, he has left me alone.  

When I tried to disabuse innocents of their illusions, he called on me more frequently.  Tried to egg me on.

Now, when I see their aura, I leave innocents alone.

His army is legion, but they are weary and growing old ... these days when I see demons, I distract them from their targets.

DEMIZEN's picture

be careful and vigilant, do not take any of these or any other drugs unless is absolutely necessary and/or prescribed by an MD who is family related or lives in your community for a long time. always consider all known long term side effects. if mentioned in the description, side effects are almost 100 likely to occur in mid to long term of usage. if you really have to be on long term drug regiment, make sure you have your blood/liver/kidney panels done every few months. do not eat processed food, drink, or smoke,  get enough sunlight. preservatives will slow your metabolism, damage your internal organs and make you fat.


HalinCA's picture

Uh ... how long you plan to live, and why?

DEMIZEN's picture

i want to look good when the nukes strike.

Moe Hamhead's picture

Right. And be sure to get plenty of Vitamin D, have your metal tooth fillings removed, and start Tai Chi!

CunnyFunt's picture

It would be a lot worse if cops didn't now carry EpiPens as standard equipment.