Prescription Pill Overdose Deaths up for 11th Consecutive Year
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 03/12/2013 in Medical Marijuana Studies
Drug overdose deaths increased for the 11th straight year, federal data shows. Despite growing attention to the risks of prescription pill medicines, most accidents involved the ingestion and overdoes of these pain relievers. A report by the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that pharmaceuticals, especially opioid analgesics, have driven this increase.
In 2010, the CDC reported that there were 38,329 drug overdose deaths nationwide. Medicines, mostly prescription drugs were involved in nearly 60 % of overdose deaths in that year. Opioid drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin contributed to 3 of the 4 medication overdose fatalities. Anti-anxiety drugs like Valium were another common cause of medication-related deaths, among 17% were suicides.
The unprecedented rise in overdose deaths in the US parallels a 300% increase since 1999 in the sale of these strong painkillers. These drugs were involved in14,800 overdose deaths in 2008, more than cocaine and heroin combined. The misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers was responsible for more than 475,000 emergency department visits in 2009, a number that doubled in just five years.
Commonly abused medications include Opiods, Benzodiazepines, and Amphetamine-like drugs. Opioids are derived from the opium poppy and used for pain relief. Examples are Vicodin, OxyContin and Vicodin. Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressatns used as sedatives to induce sleep, prevent seizures and relieve anxiety. Examples are Xanax, Valium and Ativan. Amphetamine-like drugs are central nervous system stimulants used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Examples include Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta.
How Prescription Painkiller Deaths Occur
Prescription painkillers work by binding to receptors in the brain to decrease the perception of pain. These powerful drugs can create a feeling of euphoria, cause physical dependence, and, in some people, lead to addiction. Prescription painkillers also cause sedation and slow down a person’s breathing.
A person who is abusing prescription painkillers might take larger doses to achieve a euphoric effect and reduce withdrawal symptoms. These larger doses can cause breathing to slow down so much that breathing stops, resulting in a fatal overdose.