In the United States, the number of lethal drug overdose cases has been rising at an alarming rate.

In 2013, 44,000 people died from drug overdoses–more than doubling since 1999. It has since become the leading cause of injury death.

In addition, 24.6 million people 12 or older – a shocking 9.4 percent of the population – live with some kind of substance dependence or abuse.

Sometimes, the signs are not obvious. A person at risk for drug overdose isn’t usually dabbling in illegal or street drugs. In fact, the symptoms of a drug abuse problem are often silent – prescription drug and opiate users are most at risk to experience a life threatening overdose.

Prescription drug usage is on the rise and in 2013, 207 million prescriptions were written for prescription opioid pain medications. In that same year, half of overdose deaths were associated with prescription drugs. A whopping 52 million people in the United States have used prescription drugs non-medically in their lifetime. Of these people, 8.76 million people abused prescription drugs.

The problem can grow from there, as painkillers often are a gateway to heroin usage.

A cheap and widely available street drug, heroin on the streets has increased between 1990 and 2010 – and the number of resulting deaths has also risen incrementally.

With this dramatic rise, drug overdose has become a national pandemic. Its effects are widespread. Drug overdose affects more than the person it happens to – it affects their family and friends who have to live with the aftermath, exponentially increasing its victims.

It’s a problem people cannot afford to ignore any longer. Fortunately, something can be done to prevent life threatening overdoses.

Monitor your loved one to ensure he or she is not taking excessive doses of their legitimately prescribed medication. If you suspect that the person is abusing either prescription drugs, or taking unusual or unfamiliar medication for conditions they do not have, don’t delay in contacting an intervention specialist.

Certified interventionists like those of Universal Crisis Intervention have decades of experience in matching individuals to proper treatment facilities.

Please call Universal Crisis Intervention for a free phone consultation.