CDC: ER visits related to prescription painkillers up 111 percent

The estimated number of emergency room visits related to nonmedical use of prescription painkillers increased 111 percent between 2004 and 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week.

A study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicated the problem exists for men and women of all ages. Overall, the number of emergency room visits related to prescription painkillers reached 305,885 in 2008.

The sharpest increase was seen in the misuse of oxycodone products. Emergency room visits related to nonmedical use of these drugs rose 152 percent, while misuse of hydrocodone products rose 123 percent and misuse of methadone rose 73 percent.

"The abuse of prescription drugs is our nation's fastest-growing drug problem," said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

CDC recently released a brief detailing the problem of unintentional drug poisonings and steps that can be taken to help prevent them.

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