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Friday, December 3, 2010

Prescription Drug Use in Florida

Drug deaths may be declining in Florida, but, prescription drug related deaths are on the rise across the state from the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone. Despite a state report released Thursday that in the first half of 2010 showed a decline in drug related deaths; prescription drug abuse, and not illegal drugs like cocaine, seems to be the biggest problem in Clay County, said Sheriff Rick Beseler. Prescription drugs are no joke and are equally as dangerous if not more dangerous than illegal drugs because people naively believe that because a drug is legal it is somehow safer - that is false. More people are losing their lives from legal narcotics than any other drugs these days at an alarming rate.

Florida is trying to pass legislation that would track patients who go to multiple doctors and several different pharmacies to fill their prescriptions, but unfortunately that won't be the case this year. Local officials are racking their brains in order to implement new policies for controlling this pharmaceutical wildfire. “It is very concerning because people can accidentally overdose on these, especially when they add alcohol. They are very dangerous and readily available,” Beseler said. “We will have to go to the drawing board to see if there are any applicable county ordinances that lend themselves to regulation of this industry, and I don’t know if there is now.”

The problem is only getting worse as evident by the increase in prescription drug deaths from year to year. Between January and June for Northeast Florida’s two medical examiner districts show 49 oxycodone-related deaths in District 4 (Duval, Clay and Nassau counties) and 18 in District 23 (Flagler, Putnam and St. Johns counties); just last year in the same period of time there were 57 and 9, an increase can clearly be recognized.

Statewide trends from autopsies showed the most common occurring drugs found in those autopsies were:
  • alcohol (1,831)
  • benzodiazepine sedatives and tranquilizers (1,700)
  • oxycodone pain medicine (1,117)
  • cocaine (603)
The most deaths statewide were caused by:
  • Oxycodone (715)
  • benzodiazepines (597)
  • methadone (336)
  • alcohol (270)
  • cocaine (250)
The Florida Times Union

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