New Study Blames Prescription Drugs for Bulk of Fatal Overdoses

By Jessica Calefati
December 10, 2008

Research published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirms the growing threat posed by abuse of prescription opiates and calls on clinicians to help prevent future cases of addiction and overdose.

The study, authored by Aron Hall, finds that a majority of drug overdose deaths in West Virginia in 2006 are linked to nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals, primarily prescription opiates like OxyContin, methadone, and Vicodin. Prescription opiates played a part in 93 percent of the 295 deaths examined. The study also found that men ages 18 to 24 were the most likely to obtain pills from friends or relatives.

Along with the high rate of overdoses, abuse of prescription opiates has become a serious concern because it often leads to heroin abuse among teens and 20-somethings, in large part because heroin is so much cheaper. More…