Drug overdose the leading cause of accidental death
Shana Rose Reporting
Prescription pain killers are becoming more and more of a threat, to the point that a group of doctors is urging the FDA to change labeling directions on how and when physicians should prescribe them.
Overdose has surpassed car wrecks as the number one cause of accidental death nationally, with the CDC blaming skyrocketing prescription pain killers for the increase.
And in Louisiana? "We're one of the states that has a greater percentage of deaths due to overdose than the national average," says Dr. Dennis Paul, Professor of Pharmacology at LSU Health Sciences Center.
He says one of the things that kills these people is multi-drug use. "People have a prescription for their depression or their anxiety and they have a prescription for their chronic pain. They start combining these drugs, and once you get over two or three drugs we cannot predict the interactions of the drugs."
And a dose of an opiate that you have taken in the past, "in combination with another drug may kill you," Dr. Paul says.
Those most likely to die from accidental overdose is a white male between 45-54 years old.
Another deadly combination is mixing alcohol with drugs.
In Louisiana we also have more car wrecks than the national average, and here it remains the top accidental killer. Dr. Paul says the improvements in car safety have gone a long way to drastically reduce the number of deaths in traffic accidents.
During the past three decades, the CDC says the number of drug poisoning deaths increased sixfold from about 6,100 in 1980 to 36,500 in 2008. And they report during the most recent decade, the number of drug poisoning deaths involving opioid analgesics more than tripled.