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Study: Prescription drug deaths continue to rise

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Albany/HV: Study: Prescription drug deaths continue to rise
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A Center of Disease Control finding shows more people are dying from prescription drug overdoses. It also says prescription drug abuse is up for the 11th straight year. Elise Roberts, from our sister station News 14 Carolina, has more on the findings.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- New data from the CDC suggests the country has a drug problem, and while illegal drugs are still a big concern, prescription drugs are taking center stage.

"It doesn't surprise me when you look at some of these drugs and how they are being used and the amount that's being dispensed in America," said Michael Beuhler, medical director with Carolinas Poison Center.

According to the findings, in 2010 more than 38,329 people died from drug overdose. Of those deaths, 22,134 were from prescription drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin and Methadone.

"Methadone has a very long half life, which means it hangs around in the body, which means if somebody takes a dose the way that they were taking other drugs, they're liable to poison themselves. And since it lasts so long, they may get into trouble many hours after they took it," said Beuhler.

One recent case is Harry Cohen. The Burlington High School football star died in August of 2011 of an accidental overdose. The teen took too much of his grandmother's Methadone pain medication.

"That was a very tragic case, and unfortunately, we see a number of these every year," said Beuhler.

Dr. Michael Beuhler with Carolinas Health Care Poison Control says prescription drug abuse is a public health crisis that needs immediate attention.

"You have to look to see who is getting hurt by this, how is the medicine getting into their hands and then use that information to do the best evidence-based intervention that you can," said Beuhler.

He said people should never share drugs, never take more than is recommended and if they have questions, they should ask.

"We can answer many medication questions about interactions and what medications are, and we can handle many of these problems," said Beuhler.

If anyone has questions, they should call their doctor, their pharmacist or they can call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-848-6946. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP