By Staff Writer
Public health officials across the country are reporting increases in the number of individuals who struggle with opiate addiction. In many areas, this has resulted in a spike in the number of people found dead of overdoses.
For example, the Ohio Department of Health recently reported that opiates were named as a contributing factor to the deaths of a majority of the state’s overdose victims in 2009, according to the Coshocton Tribune. The number increased by 8 percent from the year before.
Officials said that the rise in the number of people dying from opiate overdoses closely mirrors the increase in prescription drug abuse. While opiates like heroin continue to be a major problem, the increase is largely blamed on prescription painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin.
The former director of the Fairfield County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health board told the news source that few opiate addicts start by injecting heroin. Instead, they enter the world of substance abuse through these prescription medications, which have become increasingly common in home medicine cabinets.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that opiate addiction is the third leading cause for seeking drug rehab treatment, behind only alcohol and marijuana.