Prescription>illegal. There are currently more deaths occurring from abuse of prescription narcotics than from heroin.
Too Common. "fatal overdoses in the United States involving opioid analgesics has more than tripled since 1999, with higher rates among men, individuals aged 35 to 54 years, and non-hispanic whites. 3000 fatal overdoses in 1999."......From medscape neurology.
Unfortunately, yes. When narcotic pain medications such as oxycodone, demerol, (meperidine hydrochloride) morphine, and vicodin are used appropriately according to physician direction, overdose is extremely rare. However, when patients self-medicate and start to overuse narcotics, overdoses can easily happen. The risk is greatest when narcotics are unwisely combined with other sedatives such as valium, xanax, ativan, or alcohol.
Overdose. Opioid overdose is not common - as this is the legitimate prescribing and responsible use. Narcotic overdose is common as this is the illegal use and obtaining. The latter is a significant issue in the USA.