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Monday, July 25, 2011 - 12:50am

GBI: Prescription Drug Overdose Deaths Rising

More people are dying from prescription drug abuse in Georgia.

An analysis of autopsy data by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation showed a 10 percent increase in the number of deaths where a prescription-drug overdose was the cause.

More than 700 people died from overdoses in 2010, and three-quarters of those were the result of prescription drugs, mostly narcotic pain relievers.

“When I’ve treated people who are addicted to, let’s say Xanax or oxycodone, it’s all about, well, I’m in pain and my doctor gave me this,” said Cassandra Price, executive director of the Division of Addictive Diseases in the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities. “There’s this level of justification and a level of denial that’s very, very hard for people to come to grips with and admit that there’s actually an addiction.”

She said the fact that prescription drugs are legal complicates the situation for people.

Price said the increase in deaths from prescription-drug overdoses reflects trends in Georgia and across the country that were highlighted by a recent national study.

“[The study found] a 400 percent increase in the number of people seeking treatment, age 12 and above, for prescription pain relievers,” Price said.

In an effort to battle prescription narcotic abuse, lawmakers created a database this year to track dispensing of the drugs.

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