The Battle Of The Biggest Killer: Prescription Drugs V. Illegal Drugs

So, Florida is apparently plagued by addicted prescription-poppers and not the pot-addled deviants targeted by our government’s so-called “War on Drugs.” A new report shows that prescription drugs killed three-times more Floridians than illegal drugs, and not because old people can’t follow doctor’s orders. Addictive prescriptions like Vicodin, OxyContin, Valium and Xanax killed more users than all illegal drugs combined.

The report’s findings track with similar studies by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which has found that roughly seven million Americans are abusing prescription drugs. If accurate, that would be an increase of 80 percent in six years and more than the total abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, Ecstasy and inhalants.

The Florida report analyzed 168,900 deaths statewide. Cocaine, heroin and all methamphetamines caused 989 deaths, it found, while legal opioids — strong painkillers in brand-name drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin — caused 2,328.

Drugs with benzodiazepine, mainly depressants like Valium and Xanax, led to 743 deaths. Alcohol was the most commonly occurring drug, appearing in the bodies of 4,179 of the dead and judged the cause of death of 466 — fewer than cocaine (843) but more than methamphetamine (25) and marijuana (0).

The study also found that while the number of people who died with heroin in their bodies increased 14 percent in 2007, to 110, deaths related to the opioid oxycodone increased 36 percent, to 1,253.

Florida doesn’t track prescription drug purchases like other states, making life mindlessly easy for prescription drug addicts.

The lesson here is throw-out unused prescriptions, and be suspicious if your Xanax-munching friend keeps talking up impromptu trips to Disney World.

Legal Drugs Kill Far More Than Illegal, Florida Says [NYT]