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More accidental deaths linked to prescription painkillers
By: Ruben Veloz
El PASO, Texas-- The number of deadly overdoses from prescription drug abuse has spiked in the United States.
The U.S. government is now fighting back, by targeting pill mills and doctors who over prescribe painkillers, in order to try and fix the problem.
The Centers for Disease Control said 38,329 people died from overdose in 2010, nearly twice as many than in 1999 where there were 16,849 fatal overdoses.
Aliviane, a health and rehab center in El Paso, was established in response to the heroin drug problem that emerged in the 70's.
Today, 90 percent of Alivianes patients are treated for marijuana and alcohol abuse, but lately staff has been noticing a rise in one particular drug.
Community relations officer Guillermo Valenzuela said their center has noticed an increase in 100 patients getting treatment for prescription pain killers and heroin abuse.
"According to the CDC there's about 76,000 people that use drugs here in El Paso19,000 of those are kids under the age of 18, said Valenzuela. "Out of the 19,000 that are reported using drugs in El Paso County, we only provide treatment to about 400 of them, and we've seen a steady increase."
The CDC reports that heroin abuse has jumped from 373,000 in 2007 to 669,000 users in 2012, experts say the problem may lie with prescription painkillers.
A study by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health services administration estimates nearly 80 percent of people who received help for heroin abuse, started abusing prescription pain relievers.
What we've seen at Aliviane is some of the kids that started using prescription drugs, no longer have access to that prescription or to maybe their families pills, and they move on to heroin, said Valenzuela.
A study by the University of Texas found the amount of people getting help for heroin abuse rose 45 percent in 2011.
Not only that, but the number of overdose cases in the state of Texas are also going up, experts worry if more isn't done to stop the problem, the situation could get worse.
Valenzuela believes there may be more fatal overdoses that go un-reported every day, "We need to do as good of a job in communicating to our kids the dangers of other drugs especially marijuana so they don't move on to harder drugs.
If you or someone you know needs help with drug abuse, go to www.aliviane.org, or call Aliviane at 915-782-4000.