A new analysis of federal data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that 2010 marked the 11th consecutive year that the US saw an increase in drug overdose deaths. Most of the deaths, deemed accidents, were from overdoses on painkillers and prescription drugs.
In 2010, the CDC reported 38,329 drug overdose deaths. Prescription drugs and medicines were involved in almost 23,000 of those cases.
Opioid drugs, including Vicodin and Oxycontin, were considered to be the biggest problem, contributing to 75% of overdose deaths.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, explained, “The big picture is that this is a big problem that has gotten much worse quickly.” Frieden continued to explain that many physicians and patients don’t realize the addictive nature of prescription opioids and that many times they’re used to treat conditions that could be helped by less risky drugs.
Antianxiety drugs were also noted among medication-related deaths, accounting for almost 30% of them. This category of drugs includes Valium.
The report’s data came from death certificates, which do not always specify the intent behind the overdose– whether someone was attempting suicide or just trying to get high and overdosed. However, according to Dr. Rich Zane, it seems like most of the overdoses were considered accidental.
Prescription drugs are common in the homes of most Americans, and this report shows that they are potentially putting families and youths at risk of addiction or overdose.