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Drug overdose deaths rise for 11th year in a row

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 20th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In the contemporary United States, the most lethal narcotics making the rounds are not the usual suspects such as cocaine and heroin. Chances are the lethal drug overdose that claimed the life of a friend,. Acquaintance or loved one is a painkiller prescribed by a doctor that was taken the wrong way. Drug overdose deaths in the U.S. have risen for the eleventh straight year in a row, and the medical community is quick to address this encroaching issue .

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin contribute to three out of four prescription drug deaths. Of the 38,329 total overdose deaths, most were from prescription drugs.

Hydrocodone pills, also known as Vicodin, are among the group of opioid drugs that contribute to three out of four medication overdose deaths.

There were 38,329 drug overdose deaths nationwide in 2010, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medication, mostly prescription drugs, was involved in nearly 60 percent of overdose deaths that year, far overshadowing deaths from illicit narcotics.

"The big picture is that this is a big problem that has gotten much worse quickly," CD Director Dr. Thomas Frieden says.

Frieden says that many doctors and patients don't realize how addictive these drugs can be, and that they're too often prescribed for pain that can be managed with less risky drugs.

While useful for cancer, "if you've got terrible back pain or terrible migraines," using these addictive drugs can be dangerous, he said.

Anti-anxiety drugs, including Valium were among common causes of medication-related deaths, involved in almost 30 percent of them. Among the medication-related deaths, 17 percent were suicides.

This shows a need for more prescription drug monitoring programs at the state level, and more laws shutting down "pill mills" - doctor offices and pharmacies that over-prescribe addictive medicines, Frieden says.

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