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Narcotic Overdose Deaths Quadrupled in the Last Decade

Use of Narcotic Painkillers

Story at-a-glance -

  • Deaths from overdoses of drugs like hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine, and oxycodone (Oxycontin) rose from 1.4 per 100,000 in 1999 to 5.4 per 100,000 in 2011
  • Among people aged 55 to 64, deaths from prescription narcotic overdoses increased from one per 100,000 people in 1999 to more than 6 per 100,000 in 2011
  • Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, which are sedatives used to treat anxiety and insomnia, accounted for 31 percent of the narcotic overdose deaths in 2011 (up from 13 percent in 1999)
  • Separate research shows that the use of benzodiazepines has risen alongside the use of opioids, and the sedatives are often used alongside the painkillers to enhance the “high”
  • Opioid painkillers and benzodiazepines topped the list of medications most often responsible for young children’s hospitalizations (after accidental ingestion)

By Dr. Mercola

Earlier this year, Gil Kerlikowske, director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy stated that the use of narcotic painkillers and other opioids is "having a devastating impact on public health and safety in communities across the nation."


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