Saturday, September 17, 2016

Alcohol Factors in Most Opiate 'Overdoses'

   Prescription drug "overdoses" in Utah claim 24 lives every month. Nationwide, prescription drugs are the leading cause of accidental deaths, killing more than automobile accidents, and more than gun violence.
   I word search, wondering whether this means patients are getting extra amounts, and, if so, how we could avoid that from happening. I learn instead that usually, an "overdose" comes with just the normal dosage, or maybe even less. Keith Humphreys, a leading researcher on addiction, told the Washington Post that often the user loses tolerance, sometimes from abstaining from the drug, and then returning. Another leading cause is the mixing of the drug with other substances, notably . . .
   "Most of what we call 'opiate overdoses' are really polydrug overdoses: alcohol and heroin, alcohol and oxycontin, bezodiazepine, alcohol and Vicodin, combinations like that," Humphrey says.
   I wonder, then, if these deaths are counted when the count of deaths by alcohol is tallied. It is said, 2.5 million deaths each year are alcohol related. Four percent of all deaths are alcohol-related. Do those figures include those in the prescription drug overdose count?
   At any rate, that alcohol partners in so many prescription drug deaths underscores the severity of our alcohol problem.
   In light of so many deaths coming from prescription drug poisoning, finding a way to reduce such deaths is important. Finding a way to keep alcohol from mixing with other drugs will go a good distance in solving the problem.

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