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Prescription drugs leading cause of overdose deaths

Deaths from drug overdoses have increased for the 11th year in a row, but the majority of those deaths were not from illegal street drugs, but instead prescription drugs received from doctors. The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in 2010, more than 38,000 people died from drug overdoses. Of those deaths, 60 percent involved primarily prescription drugs.

There is sometimes a disconnect as to the danger or hazards posed by prescription drugs. Because the drug has a multi-million dollar marketing campaign, with slick ads on television and glossy spreads in magazines, people may tend to discount the “side effects” of many of these drugs.

Side effects really are not side effects, but instead, are less desired effects of the drug. Many of these drugs are very additive and one can become “hooked’ on these medicines almost as quickly as with something like heroin.

Thomas Friden, CDC director, said, “The big picture is that this is a big problem that has gotten much worse quickly.” In 1999, 16,849 deaths were reported as a result of drug overdose, so 2010’s numbers represent a 56 percent increase in little over a decade.

Opioid drugs, including OxyContin, Vicodin and hydrocodone were involved with 75 percent of the overdose deaths. Another area of significant concern was anti-anxiety, antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs. Anti-anxiety drugs alone were involved in nearly 30 percent of these deaths.

One doctor pointed out that because of the addictive nature of these drugs, they should be reserved for the most serious illnesses, to avoid addiction for people suffering from some chronic pain.

Source: Associated Press, “Drug overdose deaths up for 11th straight year,” Lindsey Tanner, February 19, 2013

O'Brien Batten & Kirtley, PLLC is located in Lexington, KY and serves clients in and around Lexington, Keene, Nicholasville, Versailles, Midway, Georgetown, Wilmore, Paris, Bourbon County, Fayette County, Jessamine County, Scott County and Woodford County.

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