Understanding the groups at highest risk for overdose can help target interventions. Research shows that some groups are particularly vulnerable to prescription drug overdose:
- Many more men than women die of overdoses from prescription painkillers.
- Middle-aged adults (45-54 years old) have the highest prescription painkiller overdose rates.
- People in rural counties are nearly twice as likely to overdose on prescription painkillers as people in big cities.
- Whites and American Indian or Alaska Natives are more likely to overdose on prescription painkillers.
- About 1 in 10 American Indian or Alaska Natives aged 12 or older used prescription painkillers for nonmedical reasons in the past year, compared to 1 in 20 whites and 1 in 30 blacks.
- People who obtain multiple controlled substance prescriptions from multiple providers -- a practice known as doctor shopping.
- People who take high daily dosages of prescription painkillers and those who misuse multiple abuse-prone prescription drugs.
- People on Medicaid are prescribed painkillers at twice the rate of non-Medicaid patients and are at six times the risk of prescription painkillers overdose.
- People with mental illness and those with a history of substance abuse.