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Patterns of Abuse Among Unintentional Pharmaceutical Overdose Fatalities

Dec 16, 2008

Use and abuse of prescription narcotic analgesics has increased dramatically in the United States since 1990. Drug overdoses are now the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States.
Use and abuse of prescription narcotic analgesics has increased dramatically in the United States since 1990. Drug overdoses are now the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States. The effects of this epidemic have been most pronounced in rural states, such as West Virginia, which experienced the nation’s largest increase in drug overdose mortality during 1999-2004. A new CDC study of such deaths revealed that almost all the unintentional drug overdose deaths in West Virginia involved prescription drugs. Nearly two-thirds of all deaths involved prescription drug diversion, meaning that the people did not have prescriptions for the drugs they overdosed on. A smaller group, roughly 1 in 5, had evidence of doctor shopping, defined as having 5 or more clinicians prescribe controlled substances in the past year. The full article, “Patterns of Abuse Among Unintentional Pharmaceutical Overdose Fatalities” can be found in the December 10th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 300, No.2. View the article here: http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/300/22/2613.