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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Drug Overdoses On the Rise

Every year thousands of people lose their lives to drug abuse and sadly it seems that with each year that passes more lives are being lost than the year before. Despite education programs and thousands of 12-step meetings, people continue to overdose on drugs - the leading cause, as one might imagine, being prescription drugs. In 2010 a staggering 38,329 people died from drug overdoses, with more than 22,000 resulting from prescription drug use. It is the 11th consecutive year that researchers have seen an increase in overdoses in the United States, the Los Angeles Times reports.

57 percent of overdose deaths involved prescription drugs, with three-quarters due to painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. More than 74 percent of prescription drug related deaths were accidental and 17 percent were considered to be suicides, the article points out.

In many cases, the overdoses came about because of the mixture of opioids and benzodiazepines such as Valium, Xanax or Ativan. In fact, 77 percent of overdoses involved that deadly cocktail. They were also involved in 65 percent of overdoses with antiepileptic or anti-Parkinsonian drugs, 47 percent of overdoses involved antidepressants, and 56 percent of overdoses occurred with fever-reducing and anti-inflammatory medications.  

The findings were reported this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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