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Poisoning Now Leading Cause of Death

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Although I've often written about the number of people killed in car accidents, you might be surprised to know that more Americans die from poisoning. I know I was shocked to read this information, but it makes sense considering the rising numbers of people who are addicted to prescription pain medications. In fact, from Vicodin to Oxycodone, opioid painkillers were responsible for more than 40 percent of drug poisonings in 2008. Overall, drugs were responsible for nearly 9 out of 10 poisoning deaths.

The National Center for Health Statistics also found that opiod analgesics were responsible for 14,800 of 36,500 fatal poisonings in 2008 in their analysis of the National Vital Statistics System multiple cause of death mortality files. In addition, there was variation by age, race, and gender with a higher rate of poisoning for men, people aged 45-54, and those of non-Hispanic white and American Indian or Native Alaskan compared to women or those of other races or ethnicities.

The lead author of the study says that prevention is very important in reducing the numbers of poisoning deaths. She says that the CDC is already doing some prevention work and that the federal government is looking at different regulations of prescription painkillers that they could institute to help stem the problem. The extent of the problem is highlighted by the fact that in 2009-2010, more than 5 million Americans reported using pain relievers without a prescription or only to achieve the feeling that the medications caused.