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Some meds are causing an epidemic of deaths

September 7, 2011
Lehigh Acres Citizen

To The Editor:

This information is provided by the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

An average of seven persons die every day in Florida because of lethal overdoses from the illegal, non-medical misuse of one or more prescription drugs.

An additional seven persons die daily with at least one prescription drug detected often in

combination with alcohol or other drugs. That is a total of 14 deaths per day in Florida

related to prescription drug abuse.

There were 5,275 persons who died in Florida during 2009 and another 2,579 in the first half of 2010 with at least one prescription drug in their system identified as either the cause of death or present in the decedent.

Most of these deaths were preventable.

Treatment admissions for prescription opioid addiction increased five and one-half times in Florida over the past decade. Among those aged 12 to 30, the number of prescription opioid treatment clients rose from 488 in 1999 to 7,649 in 2009, a 1,467-percent increase.

The rate of hospital emergency department cases for non-medical oxycodone misuse among those aged 21-25 in South Florida is nearly double the national per capita rate.

Florida leads nation in sale of oxycodone with more than 400,000,000 pills sold annually.

Benzodiazepines (such as Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium) and muscle relaxants (such as Soma) are also frequently linked to overdose deaths and medical emergencies across Florida.

Among Florida 12th graders in 2010, 11 percent have misused a prescription pain

reliever non-medically in their life; 3.4 percent have done so in the last month.

The number of infants treated for withdrawal symptoms in Florida hospitals increased 173 percent between 2006 and 2009; 635 cases were reported in the first half of 2010.

If you know someone with a problem call 211 or Southwest Florida Addiction Services at 239-332-6989. This is a problem that if we all work together we can make a significant impact in our community and in our youth.

To arrange to have someone come out to your community to talk about this or another safety or security topic please contact the Lee County Sheriff's Office, Community Relations Section at 239-477-1400.

Stacey Payne

Lee County Sheriff's Office

Fort Myers



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