It’s long been a popular belief that prescription opioids fueled the nation’s opioid crisis and play a major role in overdose deaths. The CDC’s 2016 opioid guideline says as much.
“Sales of opioid pain medication have increased in parallel with overdose deaths,” the guideline states. “Having a history of an opioid prescription is one of many factors that increase risk for overdose.”
But a new study by researchers in Massachusetts has turned that theory on its head. Prescription opioids are usually not involved in overdoses. And even when they are, the overdose victim rarely has an active prescription for them – meaning the medications were diverted, stolen or bought on the street.