A recent study has claimed that death rates from drug overdose have sharply increased due to easy access to prescription drugs like opioids. These drugs are being misused to relieve pain, relax or get high, subsequently leading to death by overdose, said the study which was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol & Drugs.
The death rate from drug poisoning from any type of legal or illicit drug rose from both prescription opioids and illicit opioids such as heroin. "The surge in drug poisoning deaths . . . among adolescents and young adults reflects the ease of access to pharmaceutical drugs, especially prescription opioids . . . and later transition to more potent opioids. Many young people are introduced to opioids through prescription drugs, such as Vicodin or OxyContin. They often misuse these drugs with motivations to relieve pain, relax, feel good, or get high," the authors mentioned.
"When people addicted to prescription opioids face difficulty accessing these drugs because of tighter controls, they often turn to increasingly available and cheaper heroin. Those who switch from prescription drugs to heroin are at high risk for drug overdose because these individuals are "accustomed to titrated prescription drugs and do not realize that heroin varies in potency and can be cut or mixed with dangerous and potentially deadly substances," the authors continued. Drug poisoning death rates in adolescents and young adults vary by state.
"The burden of drug poisoning deaths among adolescents and young adults is substantial. With the burden of drug poisoning deaths among adolescents and young adults estimated at USD 35.1 billion nationally, targeted state-specific efforts are warranted," researcher Ali and her colleagues concluded. Interventions that are tailored for high-risk populations and directed at multiple levels are needed to reduce premature deaths from drug overdoses, Ali opined.
(With inputs from agencies.)