Which drug most often sends a person to the ED? It may not be the ones you think. Common prescription drugs are often the ones being abused. Dr. Kimberlee McKay explains why prescription drug abuse is up and which drugs are the most likely to be abused.
What drug sends the most people to the emergency room? Cocaine? Heroine? Meth? Nope, it's the prescriptions that can be found in your medicine cabinet and they're legal.
Dr. Kimberlee McKay from Avera Mckennan joins us with more on the story.
Dr. McKay says, "For the first time, abuse of painkillers and other medication is sending as many people to the emergency room as the use of illegal drugs."
• According to the CDC: in 2008, ERs saw an estimated 1 million visits from people abusing prescription or over-the-counter medicines - mostly painkillers and sedatives. that was about the same number of visits from those overdosing on heroin, cocaine and other illegal drugs, according to a government report released a few weeks ago.
• Only five years earlier, illegal drug visits outnumbered those from legal medications by a 2-to-1 margin.
• Painkillers and sedatives clearly drove the trend. ER visits for the painkillers Oxycodone and Hydrocodone more than doubled from 2004 to 2008.
• A CDC report last year found that the rate of drug-related deaths roughly doubled from the late 1990s to 2006, and most of the increase was attributed to prescription opiates such as the painkillers methadone, Oxycontin and Vicodin.
Health officials are not sure why painkiller abuse rose so dramatically, but the number of prescriptions has been increasing, so some of those who ended up in ERs may have gotten their medicine legally.
To stop the problem:
• Know what your meds are and what they can do in the hands of someone they were not prescribed for
• Keep your meds locked up
• Use them as prescribed or destroy them
Like most of the topics we discuss during Medical Minute, talk to your family doctor for more information or call 1-877-AT-AVERA.