CHICAGO (AP) — Drug overdose deaths rose for the 11th straight year, federal data show, and most of them were accidents involving addictive painkillers despite growing attention to risks from these medicines.
“The big picture is that this is a big problem that has gotten much worse quickly,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which gathered and analyzed the data.
In 2010, the CDC reported, there were 38,329 drug overdose deaths nationwide. Medicines, mostly prescription drugs, were involved in nearly 60 percent of overdose deaths that year, overshadowing deaths from illicit narcotics.
The report appears in Tuesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association.
It details which drugs were at play in most of the fatalities. As in previous recent years, opioid drugs — which include OxyContin and Vicodin — were the biggest problem, contributing to 3 out of 4 medication overdose deaths.
Frieden said 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.
They’re useful for cancer, “but if you’ve got terrible back pain or terrible migraines,” using these addictive drugs can be dangerous, he said.
Medication-related deaths accounted for 22,134 of the drug overdose deaths in 2010.
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.
The report’s data came from death certificates, which aren’t always clear on whether a death was a suicide or a tragic attempt at getting high. But it does seem like most serious painkiller overdoses were accidental, said Dr. Rich Zane, chair of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
The study’s findings are no surprise, he added. “The results are consistent with what we experience” in ERs, he said, adding that the statistics no doubt have gotten worse since 2010.
Some experts believe these deaths will level off. “Right now, there’s a general belief that because these are pharmaceutical drugs, they’re safer than street drugs like heroin,” said Don Des Jarlais, director of the chemical dependency institute at New York City’s Beth Israel Medical Center.
“But at some point, people using these drugs are going to become more aware of the dangers,” he said.
Frieden said the data show 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.
Last month, a federal panel of drug safety specialists recommended that Vicodin and dozens of other medicines be subjected to the same restrictions as other narcotic drugs like oxycodone and morphine. Meanwhile, more and more hospitals have been establishing tougher restrictions on painkiller prescriptions and refills.
One example: The University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora is considering a rule that would ban emergency doctors from prescribing more medicine for patients who say they lost their pain meds, Zane said.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
27 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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10. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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12. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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13. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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14. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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15. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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16. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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17. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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19. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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20. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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21. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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22. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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23. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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24. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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25. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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26. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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27. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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