As reported by the Los Angeles Times, drug deaths currently outnumber traffic mortalities in the United States. This is due to an increase in prescription narcotic overdoses. This information comes from a Times analysis of government data.
Prescription medications for pain and anxiety are contributing to the rise in drug-related deaths. Such medications are highly addictive and can prove to be deadly when mixed with one another or with alcohol. Among the most abused are Xanax, Vicodin, OxyContin and Soma. These drugs are causing more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined, due to the fact that they are easily accessible.
Let’s take a closer look at prescription narcotic overdoses.
27,500: Number of people who died in 2007 from unintentional drug overdoses, with opioid prescriptions being a large contributor.
2007: The year Anna Nicole Smith overdosed by accident on a combination of nine prescription medications. These medications included antidepressants, human growth hormones, anti-anxiety drugs, benzodiazapams and a sleep medication.
2008: The year actor Heath Ledger died from an accidental prescription drug overdose, at the age of 28. According to The Associated Press, Ledger’s overdose was due to a combination of oxycodone, anti-anxiety medications and sleep aids.
2010: The year actor Corey Haim died of what appeared to be an accidental overdose. Haim died at the age of 38 at 3 a.m. in Burbank, Calif.
1,185: The number of Florida deaths caused by oxycodone in 2009.
264: The number of Western Virginia accidental OD deaths in 2006, which is nearly 300 percent more than in 1996.
1,300: The number of people who died in Ohio by means of accidental drug overdose in the year 2009, according to St. Petersburg Times.
150 percent: The percentage of increase in accidental drug overdoses in Texas from 1999 to 2007. The number of overdoses went from 790 in 1999 to 1,987 in 2007.
Aug. 31: The date for International Overdose Awareness Day. International Drug Overdose Awareness Day started in Australia in 2000 and is now an international campaign to commemorate those affected by drug overdoses while sharing information on solutions to the problem.
Accidental prescription drug overdose can happen to anyone, even celebrities. Elvis Presley, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe are three more celebrities who died by accidental prescription overdose. Death shows no favoritism, nor does prescription drug addiction.