Drug Overdose Deaths Increase Due to the Use of Illegal Drugs

Drug Overdose Deaths Increase Due to the Use of Illegal Drugs

by Madhumathi Palaniappan on  December 27, 2016 at 3:53 PM Health Watch
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Highlights
  • Drug overdose is the ingestion of prescription drugs or illicit drugs in quantities greater than the recommended amounts.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report finds drug overdose deaths increase due to the use of illegal drugs.
Illegal drugs like heroin, fentanyl and cocaine are responsible for drug overdose deaths in the United States than pain medications, finds a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC).
Drug Overdose Deaths Increase Due to the Use of Illegal Drugs

A research team from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics after developing an enhanced method to study overdose deaths which have allowed them to study specific drugs.

Death certificate codes known as ICD codes, were used by the CDC which classified drugs broadly as opioid drugs. By using new software, researchers scanned death certificates and found cause of death and other significant factors involved in overdose.

The research team said, "The literal text analysis method... leverages existing information on the death certificates for statistical monitoring of drug-involved mortality deaths. Assessments conducted during the methods development process demonstrate that these methods have high accuracy in identifying the drugs mentioned and involved in mortality as well as the corresponding deaths."

The research study found overdoses occurred mainly due to the use of multiple drugs and alcohol from 2010-2014. Oxycodone and hydrocodone were responsible for about three-quarters of drug-related deaths. Alcohol accounts for about 15% of drug related deaths.

Drugs used in the treatment of anxiety like alprazolam, diazepam were also involved in many deaths. The FDA has expanded warning labels for these opioid drugs to discourage doctors from prescribing them.

The CDC report found, "The combinations of drugs in drug overdose deaths are important to consider when interpreting the study findings. Importantly, the most frequently mentioned drugs involved in drug overdose deaths were often mentioned with each other. For example, heroin and cocaine were involved concomitantly in more than 2,000 deaths. Another pair, oxycodone and alprazolam, were involved concomitantly in more than 1,000 deaths."

Limitations
  • The report did not distinguish prescription drugs and illegal drugs used by the patient.
  • Some deaths according to the report is marked as unintentional, which may depict suicides.
Most of the patients have also complained that they suffer from severe pain due to the unfairly penalized CDC's opioid guidelines which have stopped doctors from prescribing drugs.

Opioid Medications
Opioids are powerful medications prescribed for reducing pain. Opioid drugs like Morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone may lead to certain benefits and risks.

Drug Overdose
It involves the ingestion of prescription drugs, alcohol and over the counter medications and illegal drugs in quantities greater than the recommended amounts.

Symptoms and Signs of Drug Overdose
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Pale Face
  • Diarrhea
  • Convulsions
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Coma and hallucinations
References
  1. Opioid Medications - (http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/ucm337066.htm)
  2. New CDC Overdose Study Reduces Role of Pain Meds - ( https:www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2016/12/26/new-cdc-overdose-study-reduces-role-of-pain-meds )
  3. Drug Overdose / Drug Abuse - (http://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/drug-overdose.htm )


Source: Medindia

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