From AARP Magazine
From 1999 through 2007, the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription opioid painkillers — such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, and the fentanyl patch — more than tripled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, these painkillers have now surpassed heroin and cocaine as the leading cause of fatal overdoses.
That's not to say every prescription painkiller is bad; quite the opposite. "When prescribed appropriately and taken as directed, these drugs ease great suffering in patients with otherwise severe chronic and postoperative pain," says Robert J. Friedman, M.D., a neurologist and pain specialist at the Palm Beach–based Headache & Pain Center.
But take too many painkillers, or combine them with potent sedatives — as actor Heath Ledger did in 2008 — and they can be fatal. Read the entire article.
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