Are deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses on the rise?

Overdose deaths involving prescription painkillers have more than tripled since 1999 and now exceed deaths involving heroin and cocaine combined. This increase in overdose deaths has been paralleled by an increase in substance abuse treatment admissions for and sales of prescription painkillers during the same time period. Preliminary mortality data estimates for 2009 suggest that prescription painkiller overdoses have increased since 2008, which represents the most recent year of complete (final) data.

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