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Prescription Drug Overdose: A Pandemic

img-04One person dies every 19 minutes from prescription drug abuse in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An estimated 27,000 unintentional drug overdose deaths occurred in 2007, UPI reports.

The rise in unintentional drug overdose deaths has been driven by an increase in use of opioids, the CDC notes in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. For every unintentional overdose death linked to opioids, nine people are admitted for substance abuse treatment, 35 people go to the emergency room, 161 report drug abuse or dependence, and 461 report non-medical uses of opioids.

The rate of opioid misuse and overdose deaths are highest among non-Hispanic whites, men ages 20-64, and poor and rural populations.

The CDC says the two main groups at risk for prescription drug overdose are the nine million people who report long-term medical use of opioids, and the roughly 5 million who have used opioids without a prescription or medical need in the past month.

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