Drug overdoses have risen for the 11th consecutive year according to the National Center for Health Statistics in a new research letter reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association February 20, 2013.
The research was done using 2010 mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System multiple cause-of-death file which is based on death certificates submitted by coroners, or medical examiners in the U.S.
Driving the increase in deaths are pharmaceuticals, especially opioid analgesics.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics 38,329 people died of drug overdoses in the United States in 2010. In 2010, 57% of overdoses, or more than 22,000, involved known prescription drugs. Three-quarters of those involved painkillers like Oxycontin and Percocet while another 9,400 involved some unidentified drug cocktail, reported The Los Angeles Times.
A high percentage of overdoses involved benzodiazepines along with an opioid. Benzo's are anti-anxiety drugs, and central nervous system depressants such as Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin. Taken together a synergistic effect occurs, meaning the drugs become more powerful when conbined, and dangerous as well. Seventy-seven percent of the overdoses involved these drugs together. The opioid narcotic was "...also involved in 65% of overdoses with antiepileptic or anti-Parkinsonian drugs; 57% of overdoses with antidepressants; and 56% of overdoses with anti-inflammatory and fever-reducing drugs," according to The Los Angeles Times.
This information should come as no surprise as prescription drug abuse, and addiction are currently at epidemic proportions. It is a problem that is not going to go away any time soon.
It is incumbent upon us to rethink the failed war on drugs, and redirect a large proportion of those resources toward education, prevention, and treatment, including mental health as well.
Where do we start? As soon as a child hits his first day of school, and thereafter. Parents, you also have an obligation, and responsibility to talk with your kids about drug abuse, extra-frequently.
"One person dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose in the United States and that trend is being driven by prescription (Rx) painkillers." (drugfree.org)
If you or a loved one needs help with any type of drug abuse/addiction problem, contact these sites depending on where you live. SEMCA (Wayne County residents), CARE (Macomb County residents), PACE (Oakland County residents), Drug Free Detroit (City of Detroit residents). For those residing outside the State of Michigan, contact SAMHSA for assistance. For assistance with medical marijuana issues contact The Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, Michigan Medical Marijuana Certification Center, or greentreesdetroit.com, phone number: (313) 967-9999, or (248) 677-2888
Substance abuse and mental health treatment locator here: SAMSHA