Overdose Deaths From Narcotics Keep Climbing | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Overdose Deaths From Narcotics Keep Climbing

For the 11th year running, deaths from drug overdoses rose in the U.S in 2010.

Pharmaceuticals were involved in more than half of the 38,329 overdose deaths that year.

Opioid painkillers, such as hydrocodone, or Vicodin, were the most common prescription drugs implicated. They were cited in 16,651 fatalities, or 44 percent of the total.

When the focus was narrowed to prescription drugs, the opioid painkillers were, predictably, an even clearer problem. The drugs were involved in three-quarters of overdoses.

The findings appear in the latest issue of JAMA, the Journal of American Medical Association.

Three-quarters of deaths involving prescription drugs were unintentional, 17 percent were suicides and the intent in the remaining 8 percent of deaths couldn't be determined.

To figure all this out, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers combed through a national database containing causes of death drawn from death certificates.

Because a quarter of death certificates don't specify the drugs involved in overdoses, the researchers say the findings on particular types of drugs are undercounts.

While it's clear that opioids present the biggest hazard overall, drugs prescribed for mental health conditions are also involved in many deaths.

Sedatives known as benzodiazepines were implicated in nearly 6,500 deaths and antidepressants in almost 4,000 deaths.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

David Fincher Talks 'Gone Girl,' Avoids Spoilers (Hooray!)

The director, whose previous work includes Fight Club and The Social Network, talks to NPR's Audie Cornish about the challenges of taking Gillian Flynn's intimate drama from the page to the screen.
NPR

From Kale To Pale Ale, A Love Of Bitter May Be In Your Genes

Researchers have found a gene that affects how strongly you experience bitter flavors. And those who aren't as sensitive eat about 200 more servings of vegetables per year.
NPR

Top Spending PAC Aims To Keep The Senate In Democratic Hands

Senate Majority PAC, run by allies of Senate Majority Leader Reid, is the top-spending superPAC in the midterm election season. Its donors are essentially a compilation of the party's big-donor base.
NPR

Tech Firms Chip Away At Credit Cards' Share Of Transactions

Companies including PayPal and Apple are competing to convince merchants and consumers to use their swipe-and-go mobile payment systems. Credit card breaches may speed up the use of digital wallets.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.