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Do prescription opioids cause more deaths than cocaine and heroin?

Howard J. Shaffer, PhD
Addiction Medicine
Today, people face stiff penalties for possessing cocaine or heroin, yet data suggest that opioids (powerful painkilling drugs) obtained by legal prescription actually are a much larger problem, leading to more unintentional deaths from drug overdoses than cocaine and heroin combined.

Unintentional or accidental drug overdoses include those caused by drug abuse, as well as taking too much of a drug for medical reasons. In 2007, the death toll from prescription opioids was higher than that from cocaine and heroin combined.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.