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


'Washington Post' Reporter Explores How Pop Culture Influences Views Of Police

NPR's Kelly McEvers talks to Washington Post reporter Alyssa Rosenberg, who has written a series for the paper about how Hollywood and pop culture has influenced the way the public perceives police.

In 'Appetites,' Bourdain Pleases The Toughest Food Critic (His 9-Year-Old)

Anthony Bourdain's new cookbook features comfort food he cooks for his young daughter. "She's who I need to please, and if she's not happy, I'm not happy," he says.
WAMU 88.5

The Politics Hour - October 28, 2016

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton joins us as the new series "Good Girls Revolt" based on her early civil rights work debuts.


Qualcomm Spends Big Money To Get In The Car (Chip) Business

The smartphone chipmaker has agreed to buy NXP Semiconductors for $38 billion. The deal allows Qualcomm to rely less on the smartphone industry. NXP makes semiconductors for cars.

Leave a Comment

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