Prescription drug poisoning is now the 2nd leading cause of unintentional death in the U.S. Over the past 15 years the number of deaths has steadily risen, even to the point of surpassing unintentional death by automobile accident. An article published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that there has been a 65% increase in hospitalizations from tranquilizers, prescription opioids and sedatives. “Deaths and hospitalizations associated with prescription drug misuse have reached epidemic proportions,” said the study’s lead author, Jeffrey H. Coben, MD, of the West Virginia University School of Medicine. “It is essential that health care providers, pharmacists, insurance providers, state and federal agencies, and the general public all work together to address this crisis. Prescription medications are just as powerful and dangerous as other notorious street drugs, and we need to ensure people are aware of these dangers and that treatment services are available for those with substance abuse problems.” In addition to the rise in unintentional poisonings, intentional poisonings have also risen. Experts cite this fact as evidence that prescription drugs are continually gaining widespread availability in community settings.
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