Substance Abuse

Latest Health Statistics Show Fatal Drug Overdoses Skyrocketed for 11th Consecutive Year

A new government report showed fatal drug overdoses in the United States have significantly increased for the 11th consecutive year.

The Los Angeles Times cited a research letter published on Tuesday from the National Center for Health Statistics which states that 38,329 people died of drug overdoses in the country in 2010, an uptick from last year’s figure and the latest sign of a deadly trend involving prescription painkillers.

Of the reported drug overdoses in 2010, 57 percent (or more than 22,000) involved popular prescription medications. Three-quarters of those involved painkillers like Oxycontin and Percocet, while another 9,400 involved some unidentified drug cocktail.

The report also showed that more than 74 percent of all prescription drug deaths were accidental; only 17 percent of overdoses were suicides.

An opioid was involved in 77 percent of overdoses due to benzodiazepine, a central nervous system depressant like Valium, Xanax or Ativan. Addictive narcotics were also involved in 65 percent of overdoses with antiepileptic or anti-Parkinsonian drugs; 57 percent of overdoses involved antidepressants; and 56 percent of overdoses  involved anti-inflammatory and fever-reducing drugs.

The study, which was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, was authored by scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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