A new report on prescription drug abuse in Los Angeles County suggests an increase in the number of emergency room visits, from 2005 to 2009, due to prescription/OTC drug overdoses.
According to the report obtained by NBC Los Angeles, more than 14 million prescription for opioids were issued in Los Angeles County in the past five years. Among the drugs include Codeine, Oxycodone, Morphine, Percocet, and Fentanyl.
In 2009, there were 3,048 hospitalizations and 5,382 emergency department visits for prescription/OTC drug overdose among LAC residents. Between 2000 and 2009, 61 percent of the 8,265 drug-related deaths in the county involved a commonly abused prescription/OTC drug.
“In Los Angeles County (LAC), drug overdose is the third-leading cause of injury death and premature death,” wrote Jonathan E. Fielding, Director of Public Health and Health Officer.
Using the data from the 2011 Los Angeles County Health Survey, the report showed that 5.2 percent of adults in Los Angeles County, or an estimated 379,000, misuse any form of prescription drugs in the past year.
Among the youth, 11 percent of 9th graders; 14 percent of 11th graders; and 37 percent of students in continuation, community day or alternative high schools reported misuse of prescription painkillers at least once in their lifetime.
“Tackling this problem is vital to protecting the public’s health and will require a coordinated effort of the public health system with other public and private agencies and organizations. We can reduce the burden of this problem by working together to address this growing public health concern through education, training, and other actions to reduce inappropriate access and use,” Fielding added.