Drug Deaths Outnumber Traffic Deaths In The U.S. For The First Time


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Drugs killed more Americans than traffic accidents in 2009, the Los Angeles Times reports. 37,485 fatalities were attributed to overdoses, compared with 36,284 automobile deaths.According to the Times’ analysis of data from the centres for Disease Control, the numbers can largely be blamed on climbing prescription-drug abuse, including OxyContin, Vicodin, and Xanax. And while preventable deaths have been decreasing rapidly in the U.S., drug fatalities have increased because of the availability of these pills, which kill more people than heroin and cocaine combined. From the LAT:

In some ways, prescription drugs are more dangerous than illicit ones because users don’t have their guard up, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Opferman, head of a county task force on prescription drug-related crimes. “People feel they are safer with prescription drugs because you get them from a pharmacy and they are prescribed by a doctor,” Opferman said.

California pharmacies have seen a 43% rise in prescriptions for pain pills since 2007, and a 50% increase in doses, and Vicodin is now prescribed more frequently than the top cholesterol medication and top antibiotic. These pills are also expensive, and an addiction to OxyContin can cost twice as much as a heroin dependency.

Check out 13 huge trends in America’s prescription drug habit >

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